Downsizing Mom and Dad
By Jean Donahue
parents probably have lived in their home for many years. They raised you
and your siblings in that home. When you open the hall closet door, you
see the pencil marks indicating your life in that house -- how tall you
were when you were 3 years old, when you were 10. That was the year you
tried to stand on your tip-toes so you could say you were an inch taller.
With a quick swat on your rear-end and a laugh, your mother wouldnít let
you get away with it. You laugh as you notice the initials beside your
pencil mark when you were in 6th grade. That year you carved
the initials of the eighth grade boy you were deeply in love with. You
carved them because you were sure he would be the love of your life
a wonderful house to grow up in!
now the time has come that you didnít want to think about -- your
parents need to move into a smaller place without stairs. They need to
move from the two-story house with a basement that you love. They need to
move from the house they love.
the years, they have accumulated so much stuff. And, you and your
brothers/sisters still have things there from when you were growing up.
Where do you start?
of all, your parents need to find a place they want to move to. That will
take time and planning. Do they want another home? Do they want to move
into an assisted living facility? I am sure they will want and need your
input and help. They need to decide what size place they want. Will they
need a bathroom that will be accessible to a wheel chair? If not now, what
about in the future? Can they prepare their own food or do they need
someone else bring it to them? How much room do they need for extra things
such as a treadmill, a sewing area or other projects? When you have a good
idea what they need, help them locate a place.
the time you and they are looking, you can start going through things in
the house. To tell you the truth, this will turn out to be a much larger
project than you had anticipated. It always does. Also, whether you live
next door or a long distance away will determine what and how much you can
the best way to go through things is by going through one room at a time.
Start in a room used for storage rather than a room they use all the time.
Make one ďpileĒ for things they want to keep, another pile for things
to throw away, and another pile of things that are in good condition but
they donít want to move to their new place.
you go through things, you can put things in the trash to be picked up
decision needs to be made on what to do with the things they donít want
to move. There is more than one way to dispose of these things.
They can have a garage sale after everything in the house has been sorted.
Many elderly people donít want to take on such a big project, so doing
that could be up to your and your sisters/brothers.
Do they have close friends and/or neighbors who have been there for them
when they needed it? Do they have friends and/or neighbors who have
helped them? What about relatives? It would be nice to let them have what
they want. When you do that, the friends, neighbors and relatives truly
appreciate the items. It would also make your parents feel good to give
the things they consider important to someone who is important to them.
Items in good condition can be given to charities such as Good Will, the
Salvation Army and other organizations that help people who canít afford
to buy new things all the time.
You can also hire someone to come in and auction the things. You and your
family need to go through everything first, then the auctioneer can
categorize what you want to sell.
addition to myself, I have two friends who have needed to get rid of their
friend went through belongings, then she and her family (and relatives)
took what they wanted. After that, they called an auction house. Her
parents lived quite a distance from her, so she couldnít do some of the
things you can when you live close. She is very happy with the result.
friend helped her parents, and they had a garage sale. After that, they
gave what didnít sell to their church for a garage sale the church was
having. Not only did the family get something they wanted, but they felt
good about giving things to their church to help the young people. Giving
to another charity would create the same effect.
few years ago, Dad wanted to get rid of things, so I called my sisters and
we divided many things among us. After my parents died, there was still a
lot left. My children took what they wanted, and then I found friends of
my parents who wanted other things. Everyone got something that was
important to them. Mom and Dad would have liked that.