How to Help a Senior with Rightsizing
Rightsizing is an inevitable part of moving, but for a senior it is a daunting life event. They have gathered so many memories and ‘stuff’ over the decades that they have lived in their home. You can expect your parent or senior friend to experience more heartache and discomfort about the move.
The main problem that you will encounter when helping parents rightsize is understanding what they are feeling. Many of the items in their home they associate with their identity. They feel that their ‘stuff’ defines who they are and how far they have come and giving that up is giving up on the life they have created for themselves.
Once you can fully understand the emotional significance that their most valued possessions have and the lifetime of memories they bring, you can help your parent or senior rightsize with the least amount of discomfort and stress.
Below are some simple, yet useful tips for rightsizing.
• The first step is to be there for them. Helping them organize can lessen the overwhelming effect it will have on your parent.
• Next, share in their memories. As stated, all of their ‘stuff’ means a great deal to them, so let them tell you about it. Help them bring the memories to life. In doing this, you will help keep the memory alive.
• And finally, help them figure out what to do with all of their stuff. Rightsizing means getting rid of most of your things to fit in a smaller house with less storage options, so you need to figure out where all of their things should go. Should they donate, sell, trash or keep.
What to Do With All Their Things
After you have gone through all of their belongings and shared in the memories, the next step is to determine where it should all go.
The key to helping your parents rightsize is to help them understand that the memories come from within; they do not need the item to remind them of the memory. But if they are persistent about a reminder, you could offer to write the memories down for them in a book or take photos of each item to remind them.
Donate – This should be for all of the items that they do not need, but are still in good shape. Show them that someone in need could use their stuff and that their treasured possessions can bring happiness to others as well.
Also, you could give the item away to a family member. This would be a great way to keep the memory alive, by handing it down to someone in their family. If they do not have family or are not in touch with family, give it to a close friend.
Sell – For the items that could be worth money, help your parent or senior friend sell it to a second hand shop, or post it on eBay or even Craigslist. They could use the money to do something fun, like save up for a vacation or take their grandchildren out to an amusement park – whatever they would enjoy.
Trash – Get rid of items that have been destroyed or that no longer work. No need to keep items that are in bad condition and are only taking up space.
Keep – Let’s be honest, there are some items that you just can’t part with (just make sure that isn’t too many) so find a spot for it in their new home. Help them fit these items into their new life.
Remember, seniors have lived a lot longer than you and they have been through a lifetime of memories that they truly cherish. Be sensitive but strong, and do all that you can to help them through this transition in their life.