It is a good idea to think about de-cluttering or downsizing so a move later on will be easier. Talk with your loved one about what items are most important to them, and what items can be given away or sold. Downsizing now will mean less to organize and transport when the time comes to move to a smaller space. De-cluttering should begin months ahead of a move.
If you are able to get a floor plan of the new home, or to take measurements of each room, it may help to draw where larger pieces of furniture will be placed. It may avoid the disappointment of finding that a prized item will not fit on moving day.
Surplus household items such as bed/bath linens, dishes and utensils, small appliances or lamps may be donated. The SPCA or sheltered workshop New-To-You store, Value Village, or St. Vincent de Paul Society or other non-profit organizations. Clothing and footwear can be taken to the New-To-You or dropped off in a Red Cross collection bin or Diabetes Canada Drop Box.
If moving to assisted living where meals are provided, donated non-perishable food can go to the local Food Bank. Be sure to dispose of stale-dated food responsibly by composting waste food and recycling packaging.
There are a few resources that may help you get organized with these tasks. Downsizing a Home: A Checklist for Caregivers is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to help you through this undertaking. We also have a shorter article on downsizing on page 7 of the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of our newsletter The Beacon.
In some households, hoarding is a serious issue. To learn more about this mental health disorder, please see Hoarding: The Basics or the article on Hoarding on page 5 of the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of our newsletter.
Also on the Caregivers Nova Scotia website, you will find a list of companies that specialize in organizing and downsizing. Check out our Home Care & Other Services page to find one near you.
Downsizing can be a very physical task – sorting, lifting, hauling – but many caregivers have reported that the emotional strain of helping their loved one downsize is far more taxing. As much as it has been discussed and planned, the act of distributing or disposing of your loved one’s belongings is difficult. It may be sad and frustrating all at the same time. It tangibly marks the passage of time and even the caregiver who is clinging to denial will be shaken by this exercise.
It is difficult to acknowledge that your loved one is aging, to say goodbye to your childhood home perhaps, or beloved items. Here is a 30-minute meditation that may help you with letting go and getting through this transition.