Not long ago my husband and I were doing a bit of spring cleaning. He had started a pile of items that were set to hit the trash and thrift store. I came in to see one of the baby rockers we had received when I was pregnant with my first daughter, Airlie. It was a smaller used rocker, that honestly neither one of my girls particularly liked, but the thought of condemning it to the trash can out front sent me into a full-blown melt down. I was blubbering and crying, trying to explain why this item meant so much. It was as if I had to admit that the two sassy toddlers wreaking havoc in the other room were indeed not babies any more. My husband backed away slowly and wide eyed and assured me that this would be stored in the attic, crisis averted (whew!). I was thinking of this the other day when one of the families I was working with was talking about the daunting task now facing them. Taking a four-bedroom home, filled with forty years of furniture, knickknacks, household items, antiques…both genuine and not so genuine…and many, many other things. How would they possibly decide which of these items would make it to their mother’s new senior living apartment, and what in the world would they do with the rest.
This came be a very daunting process for families. Even items that aren’t worth very much can carry a sentimental value, but when moving to senior living, it will always be necessary to pare down your loved one’s belongings. Here are three tips to help you get started:
- Start planning early. When a move is on the horizon, reach out to a professional like Lydia Fields from Seaside Styling and Organizing. Companies like hers can help you sort through and entire household worth of belongings to identify items that are most important and that could also work in a senior living apartment. This step is also important if the sale of a home is coming up. Anything you can do to prepare your home to hit the market in the best shape possible, will result in a return on your investment.
- Think function over form. That rug in the dining room may be beautiful, but it can also translate into a huge safety hazard for people living in senior living. larger furniture items that take up a lot of space and are hard to navigate around are also not good to bring. Make the environment as open and easy to get around as possible to minimize any injuries you can. For some residents dealing with memory care issues, a minimalist environment can help reduce confusion in their new home as well.
- Keep the valuables in a secure space and don’t bring them to the senior living community. This can be a difficult one for families. Your mom’s jewelry is best kept with a trusted family member or in a safe deposit box, especially if your loved one has a dementia diagnosis. It’s very easy for items to get stashed away and lost. Re-consider bringing the expensive piece of artwork and instead chose a print to hang on the wall. Use the hanging clock from the kitchen and not the heirloom mantle clock.
In the end you want to create an environment that is comfortable and safe for your loved one. Remember their room may be smaller than the home they are moving from, but they now have an entire community to enjoy and explore!