Most people don’t anticipate leaving a treasured house or location until circumstances make it a reality: a loved one needs to move from the family home, elderly parents need to simplify their living situation, a family member in hospice is not expected to return home or, for anyone getting older, the simple need to make things easier means considering downsizing a home.
While moving can be an involved task for everyone, seniors have specific needs to consider when relocating. Being in one place for a long time equates to acquiring lifetime valuables, and sometimes even means storing items things for others. Are there grown children who never took all their belongings when they moved out? Are you storing precious pieces because they have always been in the family? Do you have furniture that you keep but not use? Despite best intentions, people inventory their home and realize they have too much. As such, the thought of making decisions on every item can be overwhelming. This stress can be compounded when people have short time-frames or are overwhelmed while caring for the unique needs of an elderly loved one.
Tips for Managing “Moving Stress”
Are you thinking of moving in the coming year? Start sorting now. Go through papers, Consider donating clothes you don’t need or use. Donate that corner table now instead of waiting. Making a small dent in the volume of things over time can have a big impact on moving day.
Alternatively, is this move a sudden decision because of unexpected circumstances? Don’t underestimate the emotional toll a move can have, especially if it is accompanied by changes related to a senior’s health or finances. If you don’t have the luxury of time for sorting and planning, it may prove beneficial to pack and empty the house utilizing a storage facility in the interim, affording time for organizing items after other decisions can be made.
As you account for the time, expense, and logistics required for a move, also acknowledge and plan for the emotional cost it can exact on all involved. Friends and family should consider the move as a process, not simply a quick packing and disposing of things. Be prepared for a wide range of emotions, including resistance and anger, despite the person’s knowing the move is the right thing to do. If the sorting process is too emotional, consider hiring a professional estate sales agent. They can help triage what is saved, donated, and sold, without a personal connection to the home and inventory.
The Sorting Process: Questions to ask that help make the right choices
One way to organize is to create three groups: Things to Donate, Pass-Down, or Sell. Questions to consider include:
“What is absolutely essential for furnishing the next home?”
Knowing the square footage and the floor plan of the future space is a great way to “draw a line” about what should stay and what should go. Actually drawing your space on paper, to scale if possible, can help visualize what will or will not fit.
“Is my furniture right-sized for my new place?”
Are you or your loved one going from a 3000 sqft., four-bedroom house with closets to a 900 sqft. apartment with one storage cubby? Does that sectional couch work in the new living space? Thinking about what rooms you use regularly will help quickly identify the items that may look nice but may not be functional in the new home.
“What was cherished but should be passed on to someone else’s benefit?”
Many community-based organizations are happy to repurpose household items for people in need. Find resources online starting with community websites, faith-based organizations and charities, and companies that will collect your donated items for free.
“What needs to stay in the family?” “Do my adult children want this (or, do I just want them to have it?)”
When downsizing, remember items that hold emotional value for one person may not necessarily hold the same value for someone else. Grown children helping with elderly parents need to be patient with the process of going through household items. Furniture, keepsakes, art and hobbies, and long-curated collections can hold intense emotional value for individuals, especially if the piece has family history or recalls memories from the past. Sometimes it’s best to make decisions on such items after a move takes place. Again, this is where storage unit companies and estate sale professionals can be great partners with the right moving company.
Are you ready to help a loved one with a move? Contact Moving Ahead Services, a trusted firm with experience helping seniors. Call today to learn more about our moving services, or fill out a Quick Quote form to get started today.