Moving is stressful for everyone.... and moving your elderly parents into a smaller home adds another layer of complexity. When your parents are moving in with you, downsizing is a necessary — and challenging — task.
For many older adults, decades of emotions and memories are tied intrinsically with possessions, making it difficult to let go of items before a move. Where you see an accumulation of "stuff," your parents see as a collection of memories and family history. However, moving into a smaller home in San Diego requires downsizing. These tips will help you and your parents navigate this potentially tricky situation with compassion and understanding.
De-clutter Early and Often
Starting the de-cluttering process at least six months to a year before the actual move allows for a gradual transition that can feel less abrupt. A longer time frame also gives everyone involved time to carefully sort through possessions and determine what should be kept.
Start by disposing of or donating the obvious culprits, such as:
- Clothing that no longer fits
- Expired medications
- Outdated food
- Magazines or newspapers
- Extra household items, such as multiple small kitchen appliances and extraneous furniture
- Paperwork such as canceled checks and old financial records (if you have questions about what paperwork should be kept and what should be shredded, speak with an accountant or tax professional)
- When you come across important documents, such as wills, insurance policies, titles, deeds, military records, durable powers of attorney, passports and more, set them aside in a safe, secure location, such as a locking file cabinet, safe or safe deposit box
Try to limit de-cluttering your home to two hour sessions or less to minimize stress. Keep de-cluttering on a regular basis; when the time to pack and move arrives, you'll have made your life just that much easier.
Call in the Troops
If your parents' home has been serving as an unofficial storage unit for now-adult children, it's time to give them a call and have them come pick up their stuff. Trophies, toys, school projects, sporting equipment and other memorabilia need to go back to their original owners, who can then decide whether to keep or toss.
As moving day draws closer, you'll need to keep track of all the moving pieces. Consider creating a notebook or online document just for the move, so you can keep lists, schedules, calendars and ideas. As you sort through belongings, this will help you keep track of where items should go, both "keep" items in the new house and "give away" items, such as that figurine collection that Aunt Betsy has always coveted, or that vintage bike that Cousin Rick would love. This way, all the info related to the move is in one easily accessed place.
Create a Floor Plan
Draw a floor plan or template of your parents' new space. Take accurate measurements, including placement and size of appliances, doors, windows, closets, cabinets and built-ins. This will serve as your guide as you help your parents decide what to keep and what to let go. Pro tip: Take pictures of drawer, cabinet and closet contents in the current home to mimic placement as closely as possible in the new home and create a sense of familiarity.
Following these simple tips along with aligning yourself with an area real estate agent can help ease the stress and anxiety surrounding moving older adults from their current home to a smaller San Diego home. If you have any questions or are interested in learning how we can help you with preparing and downsizing your home in San Diego, we can be reached at (858) 240-5659.