New Year, New Outlook - Senior Downsizing
It is the start of a new year and per tradition, new resolutions are made. And whether or not you are a believer of making them or keeping up with them, I wanted to share my personal resolution.
When our seniors downsize to the home they will retire in, there is typically a lot of belongings, and a lot of emotional attachment. If assisted living isn't necessary, a great Realtor can help the family with a home purchase for a downsize but it's up to the family to be mentally prepared to handle those emotional attachments and make downsizing less painful or frustrating.
One of the services we provide is helping seniors downsize. Over the years we have worked with many families through this transition. We have witnessed the anguish and struggle among family members as they work through letting go of personal belongings. The senior comes from a generation of quality. Things were built to last and be passed down from one generation to another. Today's generations are more minimalist and if something breaks it is replaced rather than repaired.
Often, seniors don't understand why their loved ones don't want their things and are so willing to let things go. They feel hurt and let down while the family members are frustrated and overwhelmed with all the "stuff." If these things don't sound tough enough, add a layer of dementia or medical complications for the senior or full time jobs, family obligations, and stress for the family member to this equation. You can see how this can escalate to a very paralyzing situation in which no one wins.
We share these insights with the disclaimer that sometimes there is no solution for this situation but that understanding the reasons and feelings behind the situation can sometimes be the key to making these transitions as easy as possible.
But what happens if I am not here to have these trials and tribulations with my loved ones? Will they know what pieces are Great Aunt Betty's? Will they know that I want daughter Suzie to have Grandma's quilt and son Johnny to have Uncle Earl's watch?
I find myself asking, if something happened to ME tomorrow – what sort of mess would I be leaving for my loved ones?
So, I am encouraging others to join me in setting some goals to help tidy things up for not only our day-to-day living but also in the event that something terrible would happen tomorrow.
For starters, we just went through the generous season of giving and have brought in new items to our home. For every one thing you have brought in, you should let go of something you don't need anymore. This applies for our everyday living. If we make a purchase throughout the year, we should be removing something else to make room for the new. That can be in a variety of forms, either donation, giving to family members or giving to someone who is in need.
As you are putting away your holiday décor, if you didn't use something or don't like it anymore, don't pack it back away to only not use it again the following year. Donate it. There are women's groups and shelters that would accept holiday items for young mothers that don't have the money or resources to decorate for the holidays.
During the holidays I am showing all the family video footage as a trip down memory lane for my adult daughters. While I have those VHS tapes out this year, I am going to convert them over to DVD to save space of storing them.
Heirlooms – what to do with them. I hope to put my family in a better spot in the event that something would happen to me. I often hear of families loosing heirloom pieces out of the home because the remaining family members don't know the story behind the pieces after a loved one passes away. Or we have all heard stories of family members battling about who is going to get Great Aunt Betty's china set. My suggestion to avoid issues with heirlooms is to mark heirlooms with a tag for who they are to be given to.
Take the burden off of your family and make the decisions yourself in splitting up who gets what. If the family member that is gifted the item doesn't want the piece, they are free to give it to a sibling or other family member but at least your wishes were given first consideration. Also, if the item has a story behind it, try to write down what you know about it and leave it behind with the item so remaining family members will learn of the story and hopefully pass down to the next generation and not be lost. The story might be the saving factor in the heirloom staying within the family. If your family doesn't know, they can't be blamed for not keeping it.
All of these things take a bit of time and can be a bit emotional. The reality is we never know when it will be our time to go and getting things tidy now will not only help your family during that time but will also make a difference in your own day-to-day lifestyle with less worry and burden
I hope you all join me in my new outlook on 2015, and set some goals for putting yourself and your family in a better place!