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How to Help Your Parents Move to a Retirement Community: The Emotional Aspects of Downsizing

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So your parent(s) have made the decision to move to a Retirement Community – a big step indeed. This decision in and of itself is a monumental one and no doubt as the son or daughter you were involved in the process. Now, it’s just a matter of packing and moving mom and dad to their new home right? For a lot of people, what lies ahead is one of the hardest parts – the emotional aspects of downsizing.

As a senior living counselor for Bethany Village, a continuing care retirement community in Centerville, OH, I hear over and over, “What am I going to do with all my stuff?” In many cases, 40 to 50 years of memories have accumulated in attics, basements, closets, drawers and garages. Belongings spanning two or even three generations have piled up making the downsizing process overwhelming.

So where do you begin?

My best advice is simple: Do a little each day and consider hiring professional help.

First, go through your home room by room and divide belongings into three categories: keep, donate or throw away. Many items have sentimental value, which makes them extremely hard to consider giving away. This is where a professional can be very helpful. Those who specialize in downsizing and transitioning are experts in the sorting process because they look at things with an objective eye. They can also locate auctioneers and provide information on estate sales which can help you sell some of your items, especially valuable collectibles.

Before selling or donating items that are sentimental, take pictures of the treasured items and place those pictures in a memory album. This keeps the memory of the item alive without actually having to physically own it after moving into your new home.

And if a piece of furniture is really important to you, find just the perfect place in your new home to enjoy it.

While it’s ideal to downsize all at once, the reality is many people downsize in stages, storing items until a later date. With children often spread out over many states, it’s not always possible to get it all done at once. Forty or 50 years of belongings is a lot to sift through, so utilize resources to help make the process as seamless as possible. And with the money you make from your estate sale, treat yourself to some new items for your new home!

Share your experiences about downsizing with us in the comments section below. If you’ve been through the process already, do you have any advice or helpful hints? What would you have done differently?

Directions to Bethany Village:

Bethany Village is located just north of the intersection of Interstate 675 and Far Hills Avenue in Centerville, 10 miles south of Dayton, Ohio.
Click here for a map or for Mapquest directions.

Written by Bethany Lutheran Village

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