Prior to making the move to any one of our senior living communities or any other, a major undertaking must occur – downsizing. And a mission it is. While some downsize in stages and have already moved to smaller homes in the recent years before moving to an independent living community, others come from homes they have lived in for 30-40 years.
Downsizing is a huge transformation that involves a massive course of action to de-clutter followed by a major shift in the way of thinking. To assist in the process, here are some tips for helping your parents downsize.
Take Small Steps
Rather than trying to have your parents (primarily your mom) wrap their minds around the entire house, take small steps by tackling a room. By limiting the time, you spend and taking a room that is relatively easy to de-clutter (see below), you can get your parents into the groove of getting rid of the stuff in the house. After a couple of rooms are cleaned out, a sudden change in thinking takes place and everyone is often on board. More than likely, one parent will embrace the whole idea and help you bring the other parent into the fold.
Before you can think about downsizing, you need to de-clutter. If you have ever performed a good spring cleaning or even cleaned out a junk drawer, you know how to create three piles – keep, throw away and give away. When you de-clutter, you realize just how much junk you have accumulated over the years –think about how much junk after 30-40 years! Once this is accomplished, you have a better idea of how to proceed. FYI — you don’t have to wait until your parents decide to move to de-clutter.
Have a Plan for Furniture and Belongings
It helps to select a new residence in a senior living community where you want to live so that you can have a plan for furniture and belongings. As adult children, you have ideas of what you want (you know you do) from your parents’ home – you probably have even had discussions about how to divvy everything up. By deciding on a senior living community and particular residence there, you can help your parents decide what furniture works the best. You may even stand inside the apartment and mentally place furniture in each room with your parents. Then you can take what you want but be nice and share. Oh, and once everything is decided, make sure those who take stuff are there to collect their stash by a certain date and time.
Pare Down the Stuff
Once you have a plan, it is time to pare down the stuff. Your parents no longer need as much so get them to think in terms of what they NEED versus what they WANT. For example, they no longer need 24 place settings of dishes and flatware; instead, make a suggestion to keep four or six place settings. The same goes with any collections your mother has accumulated over the years by proposing she keep two to three favorite pieces as décor in their new residence. For the mementos that belong to your parents, take it with you so you can take pictures and make a memory book of everything as a gift.
Handle the Keepsakes with Kid Gloves
If your mother is like most, there are boxes upon boxes of art projects from school as well as favorite outfits, old baseball gloves and, the clay ash trays that you made in kindergarten. Your parents (mainly your mom) love these so handle the keepsakes with kid gloves. You may want to give each adult child and let each one of you take his or her own stash.
If you think you need help, you may want to consult professionals – consultants who work exclusively with people to help them de-clutter and downsize. Sometimes they have the ability to help your parents get rid of what they do not need so that moving is easier and way less stressful. Plus, they are objective about everything – there is no emotional attachment to anything from their perspective.
The best tip we can offer you is to be patient and understanding. There is a lot of emotion wrapped up in the process of downsizing. Not only are your parents giving up what they know as normal to move to a community full people in the later years of their lives as well. Even though they are moving to a safer place, it is nonetheless unfamiliar to them and they must be treated with the utmost sincerity and patience.
Discovery Village at Palm Beach Gardens offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 561.220.0078.