by Marie LeBlanc, BS, MBA – Aging Life Care Association™ Corporate Partner
As many aging adults face the prospect of leaving their homes for smaller living quarters, there are a few key strategies that can make the transition happen in a much less stressful and smooth fashion. I like to think of it as rightsizing, not downsizing.
Start with the basics
Often people have a very difficult time looking at empty rooms and understanding, spatially, what can actually fit. This can be compounded by special mobility needs considerations. We find that completing a scaled floor plan using the client’s actual furniture dimensions is critical to understanding – and accepting – what can reasonably fit in a new space. Often there are trade-offs to be made between pieces of furniture and other belongings that have significant sentimental value since not everything will fit. We encourage clients to start their transition journey armed with the facts needed to make solid decisions.
Don’t force things on loved ones
It is basic human nature to want to preserve family traditions. However, many clients have children with established homes filled with their own things and not much room to spare to add more from mom’s and dad’s collections. Additionally, differences in taste, décor and lifestyle often drive the desire and need for a different style of furnishings. We increasingly find that children may want to take on a few items – perhaps even small things that are sentimentally significant but, by and large, they cannot or do not want the things mom and dad are not taking. Opening a general conversation early in the transition process to let the children know that there will be items “available” can lead to healthy discussion regarding what is truly desired and will be cherished rather than adding more stress to an already intense situation.
Purge early, purge often
For the most part, once an item – or two or three or four – are out of sight they are out of mind. It is very easy to fill closets, attics, cellars, and garages with our stuff and never think about it again. Until it’s time to move and then the full impact of “all that stuff” hits home. We counsel clients to begin the effort to sort and organize early on and often as soon as they are thinking about a move. If they can fill just one extra trash bag per week and include it with their regular pick-up or dump run, at the end of one year they will have handled enough to fill a thirty-yard dumpster.
The same concept holds true for donations and hazardous materials disposal. Start as early as possible in the transition process to take advantage of charitable organizations’ pickups in your area. Often they only come on a regular schedule but can only take a limited amount of stuff. Towns will generally schedule one-to-two hazardous material drop-off dates per year. Taking advantage of these services can save a client hundreds of dollars in disposal fees.
With solid planning and an experienced guiding hand, a client’s transition can be a positive change and the first step to a happier, more social lifestyle. Working with an Aging Life Care Professional™ can help eliminate many of the bumps in the road. Connect with an expert in your area by visiting aginglifecare.org.
About the author: Marie LeBlanc, BS, MBA, is the president and owner of Transitions Liquidation Services in Hyannis, MA, a move management and rightsizing company founded in 2002. Transitions Liquidation Services has completed over 700 transitions and Marie is an active speaker on the topics of moving, rightsizing and hoarding. Follow Marie on Facebook and LinkedIn.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.