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Blog Feature

By: Chelsea Sayegh on July 27th, 2018

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4 Tips For Getting Your Parent’s Home Ready For Assisted Living

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Let’s face it. Your parent or loved one has been collecting things for a long time. And helping them to get rid of some of it may be a challenge — especially when the clock is ticking on their move to an assisted living community!

Your loved one has likely spent much of their life in their home, and it can be really hard to leave behind a space that you’ve been settled into for so long. And, while a move to a new community can be exciting, the process of decluttering your home is also pretty daunting.

You might feel like you’re facing an uphill battle as you prepare and declutter your parent’s home for their move. But, all you need is the right approach to make this process as easy as possible. Here are a few tips on helping them clear out the clutter and get ready for their big move.

1. Have a Compassionate, Honest Conversation

Talking to your parent or loved one about letting go of the possessions they don’t need anymore will probably be a challenging conversation. So, it’s important that you broach the subject with care and compassion.

Put yourself in the mindset of your loved one. While some seniors look at moving into a senior living community as an exciting next stage of life, others struggle with the change, especially when it comes to leaving their home and giving up some of the possessions they love. It can feel like they’re losing control.

That’s why it’s really important that you have a straightforward, but sympathetic conversation about the process of decluttering your home. Be patient as you explain why this is a necessary process, and reassure them that you’ll be there for support every step of the way.

And, it’s best to have this conversation as soon as possible. If your parent plans to move into a community in the next year, it’s best to start the process as early as you can to avoid the stress of a time crunch.

It’s also a good idea to see their new home in person. A visit to the senior living community will give your parent or loved one a better idea of how much their new apartment or suite can hold. They’ll also get a better idea of what they don’t need to bring with them, too. For example, if the community has a library, they can donate their own books or give them to friends or family members.

2. Remind Them That Memories Don’t Live in Objects

“It’s more than just stuff. It’s memories.”

Don’t be surprised when your loved one struggles to separate the good memories from a possession associated with those memories. You need to remind them that their memories don’t live in physical objects. A present a friend gave them years ago doesn’t represent the memories they shared with that person. Help your loved one remember that the memories live with the people who they shared experiences with, not objects. That being said, it’s never easy to let go of items you cherish!

There are a few ways to make it easy for your parent to let go of clutter or excess. First, they can offer cherished items to other loved ones in your family. Passing along something of value or importance will mean a lot to those they share it with.

Another way to preserve a connection to an item without actually keeping the item is by taking a picture of it. Whether it’s a sweet drawing from your grandkids or a memento from a past vacation, a picture is easier to store and takes up less space. Then, when your parent wants to reminisce, they can simple take the picture out and admire it!

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3. Implement a 12-Month Rule

“But, what if I need it in the future?”

If your parent hasn’t used something in the last year, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t need it moving forward, either. A 12-month rule is a great way to declutter your home and eliminate items that can go to the trash bin or donation box.

Check for items in the basement, attic, shed, or even the back of the closet. Be sure to look in drawers and cabinets, too. Fortunately, when your parent moves into an assisted living community, there will be plenty of holiday decorations, crafting materials, and anything else they need. So, be willing to let go of these items as you come across them.

Don’t forget about your parent’s clothes, either. The same 12-month rule also applies here. One great tip is to turn all of your hangers one direction. Then, as an item is worn and hung back up in the closet, turn that hanger the opposite way. At the end of the year, take down and pack up all the clothes that weren’t worn and have hangers facing the original direction. This helps your parent keep track of the clothes they don’t really need and can be donated to a good cause.

4. Reduce Their Paper Trail

As you help your parent declutter their home, you’ll probably run into an excess of paper – stacks of magazines or newspapers, old receipts, outdated financial information, etc. Most of this paper can go! Help your parent throw away as much as you can, and make sure you shred all papers with sensitive information that you no longer need.

If your parent has papers that they want to keep, you can use the same tactic you used with sentimental items. Take a picture or scan the document, so you still have the digitized version. This saves space, declutters your home, and keeps your documents organized.

Also, you should cut off the paper build-up at the source. As your parent prepares to move, put a “No Junk Mail” sign on their mailbox. You can also visit the Data & Marketing Association website and for a $2 fee, you can remove your parent’s name and address from mail marketing lists. This will help your parent prepare for the eventual move by reducing the amount of paper they receive and have to throw away.

Helping your parent through this transition doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Be patient with them as they prepare for their big move to an assisted living community. Once you’ve tackled decluttering their home together, they can focus on the excitement this new season of life.

Ready to start downsizing? Check out this free infographic for more tips on how to make this process as easy as possible.

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About Chelsea Sayegh

I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!

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