It’s time for Mom and Dad to move into a place that can take better care of them then they can themselves.
The good news is that they agree it’s time. The bad news is that you are looking at a family home with thirty (or more!) years of belongings, and wondering how you’re going to deal with it all.
It’s not a simple process, not physically and not emotionally.
Here are 5 tips for making it go more smoothly.
1. Start downsizing before you need to.
If the move is brought on by a sudden event, such as a stroke, it’s too late for this. However, if you see a move coming, whether it’s a few months or a few years down the road, you should get started as soon as possible.
2. Start with the easy stuff.
The worst way to start what will be an emotional process is with an argument about Mom’s 500 Chinese snuff boxes, collected over forty years, and which you have always thought were ridiculous.
The kitchen might be an easier starting point. If your parents are moving to facility that provides them with all their meals, they may only need a handful of cutlery, a couple of plates and bowls, and their favorite cups and mugs.
3. Have a floor plan of the new space.
Your parents’ new home will almost certainly be smaller than their current one. Knowing exactly what size their living room, kitchen, and bedroom are will make it easier to select the furniture that will actually fit.
4. Get help if you need it.
There are companies that specialize in helping seniors downsize. In addition to having employees who are screened and bonded, a moving company that specializes in senior moves is more likely to have employees with the compassion required when dealing with an older couple downsizing a lifetime of memories. They’re also not as sentimental as you and your parents are, and that level of rationality will come in handy.
You will need a high level of trust in the people who will be advising you about what to do with many of your parents’ possessions, some of which may be quite valuable, so be sure to ask friends for references, read Yelp and Better Business Bureau reviews, and consider companies associated with respected organizations, like National Association of Senior Move Managers and Caring Transitions.
A facility like Tower Lodge Care Center, in Wall, NJ, has helped countless families move out of their own home and settle comfortably into their new one. Call us at 732-681-1400 or by clicking here, and let us help you.
5. Pack the memories, not the objects.
Eventually, the time will come to talk about the snuff boxes. Start by acknowledging Mom’s feelings. Letting go of the treasured collection that will not fit in her new home will involve a form of bereavement for her.
Sometimes, seniors find that they can hold on to the memory of certain prized possessions, while letting go of the objects themselves. Perhaps Mom could keep her five favorite snuff boxes. Taking pictures of the rest of them (and possibly printing and framing a collage of all the pictures), could go a long way to mitigating her feelings of loss.
Moving is never easy, especially with older people. But handled compassionately — and as slowly as possible — it can be done in a way that not only preserves family relationships, but even offers time for happy reminiscing.