Just over two years ago my sister and her family made the commitment to emigrate. A difficult decision for them, made harder as our parents lived in a granny flat on their property. The house would be sold along with the granny flat and our parents would need to move. And so, she and I had to talk to our parents about moving into a retirement home.

Although they had already downsized twice – moving from a farmhouse to a small cottage in a seaside village, and then to the granny flat in my sister’s garden – the idea of a retirement home came as a shock. As a family we felt that they needed the safety and security that a retirement home would provide. It took a little while to find the right place, which gave them time to get used to the idea, and prepare for the changes.

Packing up was not difficult as they had already downsized considerably. Moving day came and went, and they settled in very quickly. Two years on, they love it there and wish they had moved sooner!

Talking to your parents about downsizing and moving can be difficult. Believe me, I know. I hope these 5 tips help you and your parents:

  1. Explain why you think its time for them to move into something smaller and safer. Perhaps they have become frail or forgetful. Perhaps the home is too big for them to maintain properly. Perhaps finances dictate. Whatever the reasons, be honest but gentle and help them understand that you believe this is best.
  2. Empathize with them. Having to move out of their home where they have been happy and comfortable will be emotionally taxing and difficult to come to terms with. Give them time to get used to the idea, and process the loss.
  3. Give you parents some control. Remember this is yet another reminder of their frailties and lack of control. Help them organize the move, but give them plenty of time. Rushing your parents will only make the process more difficult for them.
  4. Show your parents the benefits of moving into a retirement home/village. They will be able to socialise with people their own age. They will be safe. There will be assistance where needed. Less housework, less maintenance. The benefits are endless.
  5. Create a memory book. We created and printed a memory book of all their favourite things - the collections they couldn’t keep, the furniture that had to go, the huge photo collages on the walls, pictures of the cottage and garden and their favourite tree. Creating a memory book has helped preserve the memories of those years, especially now that my Dad has started losing his memory. And the best part is that my sister and I made it with my parents. That in itself is a wonderful memory for all of us.

Creating a memory book is a very creative way for your parents to keep everything they are giving away close their heart. The best part is – you made it together!

Probably the most important bit of advice I can offer is to be patient, and give them all the time they need!

Have you had to talk to your parents about downsizing? Do you have any tips?

Published in Organizing

How can I help my mom? What can I do about her stuff she can’t take? How do I get her to let go? These are questions I am asked all the time when people hear that I assist Seniors with the daunting process of downsizing and moving.

More recently a friend came to me for help. She was assisting an elderly couple move from their family home into 2 rooms in a retirement home and had some concerns. The couple were overwhelmed, distressed at having to leave their home, and with their only daughter overseas had turned to my friend for assistance and advice.

We worked through the concerns and I gave her answers to the questions she had. Recently I came across the email correspondence and thought it would be good to share as I am sure there are many people with similar questions and dilemmas:

Q. How do they decide what to keep and what to leave behind?

A. The rooms at the retirement home are small and storage space is at a premium. They need to be sure that what they take, they will use. Clothes should be limited and can be sorted by winter and summer so they can have out of season items out of the way, possibly on top of a cupboard. Other than that, their personal linen, comfortable chairs, a small coffee table and if possible their choice of curtains. Also choose a few favourite personal items that will make them feel at home.

Q. What do I tell their daughter?

A. It’s really important that you keep her in the loop. It’s a good idea to email her regularly with updates so that she feels involved and knows exactly what is happening.

Q. They need to sell as much as possible as they need the money. All the appliances, all the furniture, paintings, all small appliances, rugs, all kitchen smalls, clothes and linen must go. What do I do?

A. I would strongly suggest either sending most of it to auction, or to a consignment store, as this is the quickest and easiest way to sell goods.

Q. What about selling online?

A. I wouldn’t do this. It is already extremely stressful for them and this would just add to their stress. Having to respond to people who call, and also deal with people who want to view items will add to their stress, and take time they don’t really have.

Q. They keep saying they need the money. What can they expect from the sales?

A. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with 2nd hand goods so they cannot expect to make a huge amount from the sales, unless there are seriously valuable items. Often there is a perceived value and the sentimental value, but it is always the market value that dictates.

Q. Are there any things I need to be aware of to safeguard myself, any pitfalls I should be aware while helping them?

A. It is important that you ensure they fully understand what you are doing at all times and keep their daughter in the loop always. It’s a good idea to have a paper trail, noting what you have done, where things have gone, what is being sold, what is being donated. That way there can be no misunderstandings, and no issues at a later stage.

The couple moved and have settled into their new home. Most of their goods were sold at auction or donated. Their daughter came to visit and could spend quality time with them. My friend found the experience both very emotional and extremely rewarding!

Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Do you have questions regarding assisting Seniors move?

Published in News
Thursday, 24 May 2018 11:13

Have you spoken to Mom?

“Help! I'm emailing you for some much-needed assistance! My mom is in her 80’s and still lives in the family home and she desperately needs some help in getting rid of a lot of accumulated stuff!

She is in great health but unfortunately suffers from chronic back pain. Unfortunately, I live overseas and am unable to help! Could we perhaps organise a time chat to discuss how you could help her to get rid of a lot of items that need to go?”

Most weeks I receive emails like this from adult children wanting assistance with their elderly relatives. Often, it’s because Mom or Dad or both are moving into smaller accommodation. Quite often they are still in their large family home, with an accumulation of stuff over many, many years. The children have moved away, across country or overseas and are not able to be there for extended periods to help.

Always sent with the best intentions!

My first response is “yes, I would love to help!”

The next is “Have you spoken to your mom about this?”

It is so important and absolutely essential to have this discussion with the family member concerned prior to even considering engaging a professional to assist.

It is extremely sensitive and quite often painful for older folk to admit they need help, and then to be comfortable having a complete stranger in their home going through their stuff. It’s important to go slow, plant the seed, discuss the options and possibilities over a period of time. Encourage without pushing.

It is still their home and their things and they should have some control over the process of downsizing and moving. Give them plenty of time to get used to the idea, and only then call in a Professional Organiser who works with Seniors.

Having said all that, there is also a fine line between the parent making the decision and the adult children making it. Safety, hygiene and comfort should be your priorities, and if you feel any of these is being compromised, you will need to step in.

Whatever you do, be respectful, kind, gentle and above all do it with love!

Published in Organizing
Friday, 06 April 2018 04:49

5 Favourite Downsizing Tips!

Are you downsizing to a smaller home, moving to a retirement community or simply overwhelmed by all your stuff?

We assist clients with the difficult task of downsizing all the time. Most of them struggle to let go years of accumulated treasures, collections, and possessions. But usually as we progress the task gets a little easier each time.

Wanting to declutter is a great start. Now all your need are some tips and a good plan to get you going.

These 5 tips could help you:

  • Have an end goal. There is a reason you want to live with less stuff. Focus on that goal as you sort through your things. Keep that goal in mind when you find it difficult to let something go.
  • Don’t rush the process. Remember it took time to accumulate all your possessions. Decluttering and letting go will take time too.
  • Just in case is wasted space. Often, we hold onto things because we think we might need the items one day. Think about your new lifestyle and new space.
  • What is the likelihood of you needing these items? Think about who could benefit from them and donate them.
  • Looking for a quick start? Go through your kitchen cupboards and clear out all expired foodstuffs. Then clear out all items that you would definitely do not use. Do the same with your bathroom cupboards and medicine chests. You will be amazed at how much you get done, how much space you clear, and how good it feels. Hold onto that feeling at you move on to other spaces.
  • Tackle the easy spaces first – laundry cupboards, the drawer filled with old electronics and chargers, your underwear drawers. Leave the sentimental things until you are feeling strong, and good about the process.
    Remember that decluttering is not organising. Your mission is to let go and get rid of stuff. This is not the time to go out and buy storage containers!

Remember this all takes time and effort. While decluttering is time consuming and can definitely be tiresome, it is hugely rewarding. Each step is a step closer to your goal. Celebrate your decluttering successes. Pat yourself on the back, relax with a good cup of tea, go for a walk or meet a friend for coffee.

You deserve it!

Published in Organizing

Many of our clients are elderly, who are often anxious, upset and sad. In many cases they are frail and are not able to manage physically. Some are keen to move, some feel they are being forced by family, finances or circumstances. All in all, it’s a very stressful time for them and their families.

One of our newest clients is a lovely woman of 87, who suddenly became frail and unable to live alone. She is going to live with her daughter, who wants to take care of her. We met recently to chat about the process, and put a plan in place. Afterwards, the daughter and I chatted a bit. She was frustrated at the resistance from her mom, but also upset with herself for being so impatient! I assured her, she and her mom were not unique. Most families we work with feel the same.

Remember, moving isn't easy for anyone. It is physically exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. 

Here are 10 tips to get you all through ready for the big move day:

  1. Be sensitive to the relative moving. 
  2. Start early, and give them enough time to work through the process.
  3. Work out a plan and a timeline for them. 
  4. Allow them time to reminisce and grieve the loss of their home and their belongings. 
  5. Be understanding if they are upset. Take time to sympathise and console.
  6. Take time to share memories as they go through photos, letters, memorabilia. It’s an important step to letting go!
  7. Remind yourself that its their stuff, not yours. Things they hold dear might seem trivial, or unnecessary to you. Be respectful of their decisions to keep certain items.
  8. Don’t force a decision. You will need to with bigger items (the large ornate dresser that won’t fit in the new home), but allow some of the smaller items to go with them, and they can decide once there. 
  9. Do not toss things without their consent. Your relative is already feeling a lack of control. It is so important to let them make decisions, however small. A bookmark might mean nothing to you, but holds memories for them.
  10. While its great to have some new stuff, its so important to have their favourite and familiar things in their new home. Your relative is giving up so much. Make sure they have their favourite things around them.

Be firm with a huge dose of kindness and understanding. This stage is key to a less stressful, happier transition for all concerned! 

Have you assisted an elderly relative move? Do you have more tips for us?

Published in Organizing
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 05:58

Downsizing Tips

In the last couple of weeks we have worked with several elderly couples moving from their large family homes to much smaller retirement apartments. Moving is an emotional and physically draining experience, and much more so for the elderly. I thought it could be helpful compiling a checklist for downsizing

ASK YOURSELF SOME QUESTIONS

Published in Organizing

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Telephone: +27 (0)82 926 3531
Email: judith@allsortednow.co.za 

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