Is your parent or grandparent ready to move closer to you or your siblings? This transition is vital for the health and safety of senior parents, but it also often takes a load off adult children who have been splitting their time and attention as long-distance caretakers.
However, downsizing a parent’s life in order to sell their house is often more challenging than the actual move. How can your family successfully help someone sort through their home, belongings, and memorabilia with less stress? Here are six tips you can try.
- Accept Some Gifts
No one wants to throw out items they have a sentimental attachment to. Most people are also reluctant to get rid of items they believe have financial value. So don’t ask your parents to throw these things out. Accept them as gifts instead. If the owner feels that they are passing belongings along to someone who will appreciate them, they’re much more likely to let go.
You can always quietly decide later, on your own, if you end up keeping things.
- Focus on the Positives
Letting go is hard, so focus on the positive outcomes. If you sell a large sofa, for instance, what does Grandma want to do with that money? Digitizing photos or kids’ drawings preserves them so that they can never be truly lost. Getting rid of a batch of old jewelry could allow Mom to have a single new piece made instead. Frame potential losses as new opportunities.
- Sketch the Destination Layout
You probably already know where Mom and Dad will be moving to. If so, take photos and make sketches of the home’s layout. Include measurements and existing architectural features (such as windows, doors, closets, outlets, vents, and fixtures).
Why go to this much trouble so early? There are two good reasons. First, the more your parent understands and visualizes their stuff in the new home, the easier it will be to leave the old one behind. Secondly, they can more easily see which furniture and large items will fit in the new home and which won’t.
- Make New Memories
Make the sorting process a time to start new memories. If your adult siblings or others will help, make a party out of it. Take photos, tell stories, have a few laughs. Did you find a stash of throwback 80s clothes in the closet? Dress up and take some hilarious retro photos before donating the clothing. You’ve made new memories to keep, so moving on won’t feel like as much of a loss.
- Minimize Bulky Items
If there’s not enough room for everything, work on getting rid of bulkier items first. If Grandpa is willing to let go of his big work desk, he’ll have more room for tools. If you sell a large painting, suggest replacing that space with several framed collectibles. Or, why not buy an inexpensive e-reader, and then replace Mom’s book collection with digital versions of the same?
There are many ways to reduce bulk so they can keep what matters, but you may need to be creative. If keeping the large item is about sentimentality, for instance, find out the story behind it. Then, brainstorm ways to honor and preserve that story without keeping the bulky piece.
- Find Good Homes
Donating or passing along items is a great way to help someone downsize. But simply giving things to charity might not provide much real reassurance for someone attached to their belongings.
A better way is to find a specific, good home for some items. Ask around to find family and friends who might benefit from practical items. Donate certain pieces to niche charities (such as giving pet supplies to an animal rescue). The more appreciated things feel, the easier it will be to give them away.
Moving is hard for most people, and it can be an even bigger challenge for older persons who have a lifetime of accumulated belongings. But you can develop effective strategies. At Christofferson Moving & Storage, we can help with everything from planning to storing or transportation. Call today to learn more about our services.