Often, the most difficult decisions are those that must be made during a time of crisis. Downsizing, clearing clutter, getting organized, simplifying, whatever you call it, it's easier to do when broken down into manageable tasks.
Getting your own house in order is difficult enough; the real challenge comes when you're faced with helping your parents downsize.
The emotional aspects of selecting furniture and keepsakes to take to a new place - condominium, retirement residence or long-term care facility - can be overwhelming. This is a project that should be approached with a clear plan, lots of patience and a sense of humor!
Where do you begin to help sort through years of accumulated treasures and the memories that accompany them?
When you get rid of the obvious garbage, you set the stage for the rest of the downsizing process. Every home has a collection of boxes of bags and bags of boxes, empty bottles, foil pie plates, chipped mugs, odd socks, dog-eared paperback books, fast-food flyers, broken appliances and ugly lamps. Now is the time to get rid of them.
Be ruthless! If your parent is moving to a place where laundry will be done for them, select clothing that requires minimal care.
Armed with an accurate floor plan for the new place, select items that are both functional and familiar. Take only enough furniture to fit the space, not overwhelm it.
These items make the new place feel "just like home". favorite paintings, framed photographs, treasured souvenirs and gifts from grandchildren help with the transition from the family home and provide something to talk about when friends come to visit.
Without the worries of home ownership, your parents will find themselves with more time to enjoy life. It's easier to adjust to a new environment if there's a collection of favorite books, hobby supplies and/or familiar board games on hand.
Downsizing sounds so simple and yet, this is one of the most challenging tasks you and your parents will ever go through. Take the time to listen, laugh, cry and celebrate the memories with your parents. It will make the transition easier for everyone!