Are you in the process of helping an elderly loved one downsizing their home belongings in preparation for moving into a senior care community? Are you overwhelmed? Frustrated? Don't know where to begin? Are your family tempers on edge? You are not alone.
When we speak to families today about what they can do to start the process of planning for senior care with aging family members, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking the time to start organizing, and perhaps even downsizing, a senior's home. Little steps along the way can make a big difference later. These tips and insights are especially important and true in the environment we are in today, with the global economy turned upside down, massive job losses, and the need for extreme social distancing due to the Corona Virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
This is part of a continuing series of articles and helpful tips and insights into helping you sell, makert and or downsize your home by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in real estate sales and marketing, home downsizing, content clean out and removal and estate sales, and services Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Below are a few tips I wanted to share on how to tackle this important task.
1) Discuss why you need to do this job with family members. Before you start clearing out items from your parent's home, I suggest communicating with them - and any siblings - about your desire and reason for helping to de-clutter and organize. I recognize that starting a discussion about senior care can cause apprehension for many seniors and their families, but it's important to help aging love ones feel in control by discussing the goals behind this process, and ensuring them that getting their stuff in order will help them continue to maintain a good quality of life.
2) Find and organize important documents. Track down and file away important financial, health and other legal documents for seniors. I can assure you that taking the time to do this before an emergency occurs will help save time, money and anxiety. For example, being able to quickly provide paperwork such as a durable power-of-attorney or an advanced-health-care-directive when you unexpectedly visit the hospital with an older parent can help reduce stress and streamline the process in most scenarios.
3) Don't forget to take stock of current living conditions while cleaning. While visiting and helping your parents clean their homes, take the time to evaluate the safety of their living environments. Is the home well-lit, easy to navigate and free of fall risks, such as open extension cords and loose rugs? Are the fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors functioning?
4) Remove the clutter. Whether you're helping parents move from a large family home to a smaller apartment or simply trying to clear up space in their home, downsizing can be a particularly wrenching process for aging relatives who may find it overwhelming to think about letting go of items they've gathered over a lifetime. A good rule of thumb to follow is to help aging loved ones choose the items they need and use most often, while starting to think about which friends and relatives may want items or family heirlooms with sentimental value. Consider taking pictures of sentimental items and creating a photo album. This can help ease the emotions of letting go.
5) Ask for the help of others. Don't be afraid to ask trusted friends and family to help clean and de-clutter a loved one's home. Having others around to share memories can make the process less painful and overwhelming. If professional help is needed, contact a senior move manager who can provide seniors and their families help with downsizing their possessions and figuring out what to keep, throw away or donate.
There are many events in life that you cannot prepare for, but getting organized to help your parents transition into the next stage of their lives can help minimize the distress that can come with this situation. My hope is that my own experience will encourage families to start getting organized!
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