It’s a good idea to think about de-cluttering or downsizing so a move later will be easier. Talk with your loved one about what possessions are most important to them and what things can be given away or sold. Downsizing now will mean there will be less to organize if and when the time comes to move to a smaller space. De-cluttering should begin months ahead of time.
If possible, get a floor plan of the new place or take measurements of the rooms to help figure out where larger pieces of furniture will fit. This might avoid the disappointment of finding that a prized item will not fit on moving day.
Surplus household items such as bed and bath linens, dishes, and utensils, small appliances or lamps, can be donated. Pet supplies can be given to the local SPCA or animal shelter and there are non-profit organizations in most communities that will take donated items. Also, clothing and footwear can be dropped off in non-profit collections boxes in convenient locations around town (e.g. outside grocery stores or community centres).
If your loved one is moving to an assisted living facility where meals are provided, donations of non-perishable food can go to the local food bank. Be sure to dispose of stale-dated food responsibly by composting food waste and recycling packaging.
There are a few resources that might help you get organized. Downsizing a Home: A Checklist for Caregivers is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide that you may find useful. We also have a shorter article on downsizing on page 7 of the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of our newsletter.
For some people, hoarding is a serious issue that can be the result of a mental health disorder. To find out more about it you can read Hoarding: The Basics or the article on Hoarding on page 5 of the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of our newsletter.
You can also find a list of companies that specialize in organizing and downsizing on our website. Visit our Home Care & Other Services page to find out if there is a company in your area.
Downsizing can be a hard task -- both physically and emotionally. In fact, many caregivers say they find the emotional strain of helping their loved one downsize even harder than the lifting, sorting, and hauling. As much as it’s been discussed and planned, the act of distributing or disposing of your loved one’s belongings can be difficult. It might be sad and frustrating all at the same time for your loved one, and for you.
It’s hard to admit that your loved one is aging or that you may have to say goodbye to your childhood home and all the memories it contains. This 30-minute meditation may help you with letting go and getting through this transition.