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Supporting Mom and Dad….The Next Step

Jeff Scott - January 19, 2018

Mom & Dad

Moving isn’t easy for obvious reasons. The search for a new home can be challenging, especially in the competitive market of Seattle and Tacoma. While there are many logistics to coordinate, moving to a new home should be exciting. However, when moving to a new home is a necessity rather than a preference – as is often the case with older parents – it can be a challenging experience.

The decision to downsize, whether to a smaller home or senior living facility, can be difficult for some seniors and their adult children. For older adults, downsizing isn’t always a welcome choice. It can come out of necessity as a result of aging, illness, or finances. However, there are some things you can do to help your parents make the transition a bit easier.

p>Here are some suggestions based on tips from the Family Caregiver Alliance. Not all of the ideas will be relevant to your family’s case, so apply them as needed to your situation. Keep in mind that downsizing usually means less space to store belongings.

Help make the transition:

  • If at all possible, you should begin the process of decluttering well in advance of any move. Starting six months to a year before moving is ideal. Pouring through decades of one’s belongings can be emotional and time-consuming, so it’s a good idea to start with the smaller more generic items such as paperwork and household goods rather than sentimental belongings.
  • To reduce the burden, set aside time each week over the course of several months. Tackling it in increments is less physically and emotionally challenging. Getting rid of the non-sentimental things first helps get your parents ready to tackle the more significant items.
  • During the decluttering, you should shred any paperwork no longer needed such as old checks and old bank statements. Before you toss or destroy any financial documents, talk to an accountant or tax professional about what records you should retain and for how long.
  • Toss old food or medications (Here are suggested guideline on how and where to dispose of medicines).
    Donate or toss old clothes and unnecessary household items.
  • Go through and organize all important papers such as deeds, wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, medical records, military records, diplomas and degrees, birth certificates, and passports. Store these in a safe-deposit box or fireproof safe. Both you and your parents should know where the documents are kept and how to access them.
  • If your parents have been storing items for any grown children, it’s a good time to send those things on to the rightful owners. Do your parents need to hold onto your 4th-grade project? All those old school projects they’ve been holding onto should find a new home even if it’s in the garbage bin. It’s not likely your parents will have room in their new home.
  • If there aren’t enough walls for years of framed family photos, buy archival-rated photo albums and put them there for your parents to enjoy.
  • Remember that pouring through a lifetime of belongings can be a sentimental journey through one’s life. Being supportive and understanding of the emotional aspects of preparing for a downsizing move due to aging can help them accept and cope with the significant changes ahead.

    – Diane Evia-Lanevi (Nor’West Property Shop Senior Staff Writer)