Q: My parents have lived in their home forever. It’s filled with so much stuff along with family memories. They need to move to a retirement community, but don’t know where to begin. How do we overcome this roadblock?
A: The first thing is to let your parents know that they are not alone! Here at Victoria Landing, we see this challenge every day, and understand that it can seem overwhelming as part of a major life transition. We work one-on-one with our new residents all the time to ensure that their move to our community is a smooth and enjoyable one.
Of course, as with everything, planning ahead of time can make the entire process easier. They are downsizing into a one- to two-room apartment, so one place to start is with the practical items that one uses every day. Then, move on to the most important sentimental items one wants to keep, like the favorite chair or the treasured antique or painting. After that, it’s good to decide which items to give to family, friends and charities. Other options for dispersal include yard sales, consignment shops and estate sales.
An article in The New York Times, August of 2014, gave some very practical advice that I’d like to share. In it, a downsizing and moving specialist in Maryland says, “Downsizing is the hardest because it is emotionally difficult for people to release their history.” When downsizing, she says, “nothing should be off limits. Either use it, love it – or leave it.” Maybe this philosophy will help sort through items!
Taking baby steps makes the de-cluttering and organizing process less intimidating. For example, The Times article suggests setting a deadline, setting up organizing time on the calendar, getting friends or relatives to help, and calling and booking a donation time for the next day.
Taking pictures of one’s treasures and organizing these into a scrapbook may make parting with memorabilia easier. They’ll still have the memories but not the object.
Explain to your parents that their move to our community is an exciting new beginning and that they are “rightsizing” their lives. This is the perfect opportunity to declutter and put what’s not in use where it can best be used. And while they may be downsizing their individual residence, it is always helpful to remember that there is an entire community beyond their apartment that they can now consider as part of their home.
Our staff is always happy to provide local resources, like professional organizers, packers, movers, and even companies who will unpack for them and set up their new home. Feel free to have your parents call us directly at 321-622-6730 and we can start now!