Helping parents or grandparents downsize and prepare for a move can seem like a daunting task, but with some careful planning, patience, and organization you should be able to help make the situation a lot more stress free.
Planning is critical
Where the individual is moving to is key. There will be a big difference in what can be moved based upon the new space. Is it another house? Smaller apartment? Room in a family member’s home or senior living facility? All of these spaces will determine the amount and size of the items that can be moved along with your family member, so determine first the must-haves that will be needed for the space and tag them.
A clean sweep
There are some things that can just go. Make a plan for those first and just do it. Kitchen supplies, tools, old papers, and clutter. These things will most probably not be needed and will only make the task seem insurmountable by laying around.
Sorting through history
It’s important to realize that you are helping to go through memories – most with a history attached. Be patient, let your loved one stroll down memory lane and then make a determination about what to do with the item. Not taking it does not necessarily mean tossing it. Some things can be donated, some things may be wanted by other family members or friends, and others could even be sold through consignment shops or garage sales. Make sure to photograph treasured but unneeded objects and make a memory book for your loved one.
This work takes time, so the earlier you start before the move, the better off you will be. Don’t make the task an overwhelming one; just schedule a couple of hours a day to go through things. Don’t rush and enjoy the time remembering things.
The big stuff
Deciding what furniture to keep can be a big deal as many pieces may have been in the family for a long time. Some can be offered to family to see if they want it but chances are this is where you will do considerable downsizing.
Review the size of the new place and think realistically about what is needed. Decide on those items first and then take another look at what is left. If the new home has enough space and the person moving is one to rotate things, storage is always an option – just be sure not to overdo it. The rest can be donated or sold.