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What To Do With Your Parents’ Possessions Before Moving to a Senior Living Community

By April 28, 2023News

For older adults, moving to a senior living community — with no home maintenance, cooking or cleaning responsibilities — can be incredibly liberating.

For their adult children, however, the move itself can be overwhelming and emotionally fraught: What do you do when you have aging parents with lots of stuff they no longer want or need?

Moving elderly parents out of their home can instantly trigger a host of issues. One of the first often is, what do you do with a house full of things that have accumulated over years, perhaps decades? It’s hard to decide what to do with the possessions your parents built their lives around, especially if the items have a special meaning to them (but not necessarily to you).

It may seem easier to move everything into your basement or rent a storage unit — but that only delays dealing with the stuff itself. Instead, consider employing these strategies to make paring down a bit more manageable.

We’ll also explain the benefits of bringing in senior move managers or other senior moving services — impartial experts who won’t have the difficult emotional attachment to the situation that you and your family may have.

First, some tips:

1. Divide And Conquer

Start by grouping common household items together and reviewing them as a single category. When you look at all the kitchen tools or all the bed linens together, it becomes easier to spot duplicate items or items that haven’t held up well. Put the older, more worn items in a pile to donate or throw out; then take the newer ones and either let family members select what they’d like to have, or set it aside for a garage or estate sale.
TIP: If you can — and if they’re willing — get siblings, your children, even your nieces and nephews to help you sort and separate. Family members who see how much there is to deal with will have a better appreciation for the time it takes to go through everything. It helps to have transparency in the process: You may have zero attachment to the dinged-up frying pan your mom used to make breakfast in every Saturday morning. But to someone else, that pan may represent a cherished memory.

2. Keep Heirlooms

Preserve items that have significant sentimental value. Ask your parents for the story behind the heirlooms. You may hear never-before-told stories, such as: “That’s the watch I carried with me in Vietnam,” or ,“Those earrings were a wedding present from my parents.” If items have more sentimental than monetary value, consider repurposing the item to fit your lifestyle. Frame the watch and display it on your shelf, or have the earrings reset as a ring you can enjoy today.

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