While taking care of your parents might span years, there are people available to do the hard work of getting them moved out of their homes and into senior care. Barbara Morris, 70, is founder of Smooth Transitions, a senior move management company that helps prepare, sort, pack, and move your loved one’s belongings. Active adults also use her company to help them downsize and move. Barbara no longer does the hands-on work; she trains new licensees for her 24-year-old company, which now has licensees in 26 states. She’s a founding member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. Barbara offers these tips on how clients can make moving into a new place easier on themselves and their families.
Get professionals to help with the sorting process. “Sorting can be so laborious. We all have so much stuff, and it paralyzes us because everything has memories. Our managers are neutral. We aren’t the adult child saying, ‘Mom, that’s junk. Mom, you don’t have room for it.’ We are gentle. We talk about space limitations, how to capture memories in different ways. We have no agenda.”
Devote small amounts of time to sorting. “That’s something all of us can do; you don’t have to be moving to sort through your treasures. Take 15 minutes to an hour a week to clean out a drawer or a closet so you don’t get overwhelmed.”
Identify anything that the family might want. “That’s a tough one. It involves tough love. You’re making a move and you have things in the basement from your high school years, college stuff. You started a career, got married, had children, got unmarried, and proceeded to use your house as the dumping ground for your stuff and your parent’s stuff. If any of this is important to you, give it to family members.”
Dispose of the things that are left. Sell valuables. Donate anything that can’t be sold but still can be used. The rest can be considered trash. Don’t hold onto things like flower vases. Always have a donation bag going, and when charities call saying they will have a truck in your neighborhood, put out your donation. I have a bag going upstairs right now. Keep it moving. When you buy a new sweater, get rid of two old sweaters.”