You have decided to move your senior loved one into assisted living, now for the next challenge. You have a house filled with possessions to contend with. What do you do with all your parent’s stuff? Most aging parents want their things to be treasures for their loved ones, rather than burdens, but that is easier said than done when sorting through a lifetime of memories. You want to be respectful of your parent’s valuables, but you are also realistic about what can go with them to assisted living and what cannot. Here are 10 practical tips to help you navigate this difficult situation.
- The earlier you start the better- Don’t wait until your senior loved one’s health is failing or right before you sell their house. Start decluttering early. This can help you ensure important items go to the people or organizations that could use it the most.
- Take your time- It is tempting to want to clear out everything in one weekend, but it is wise to take it slowly. It is reasonable to take a month or two so you don’t exhaust yourselves mentally and physically. Work room by room. The National Association of Senior Move Managers recommends that senior spend no more than two hours at a time sorting through possessions.
- Start with unsentimental stuff- Starting with the kitchen and garage can help you get the hang of making decisions and the decluttering process, which will help once you get to the important things.
- Presort things- group like things together and then pull out just the best ones. For example, gather all the frying pans and pull out the best one. Say “This is the best frying pan to keep. Does this sound good to you?” Yes or no questions are the best when helping seniors downsize.
- Be decisive- Putting items into a maybe pile is not only a time waster, but it also will make your loved one more attached to the item. Keep it simple by separating into five categories- keep, donate, give to family members, sell, and trash. A general rule of thumb is to handle an item only once and move on. It is helpful to schedule pick up for donated items in timely manner so there isn’t time to overthink decisions.
- Save the sorting for later- don’t spend valuable time looking through the piles of paperwork or photos. Box it up and go through it when you have time.
- Bring in the trash can- Things to toss immediately include: old spices, magazines, stuffed toys, candles, plastic containers, outdated medication, toiletries, and outdated food.
- Free- Put a box by the road and label “free”. It is a great way to give away books and inexpensive knickknacks.
- Donate- Check with charities about items they need and accept. That is a great way to get rid of clothes. Some charities will even come to your house to pick up big furniture.
- Know when to get help- If your aging parent is throwing up road blocks or the task seems too big to tackle alone, there is no shame in getting help. A 3rd party such as a Senior Move Manager can be just what your loved one needs to part with the stuff.
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