If your parent is moving from their long-term home to an assisted living community, it’s likely that they’ll need your help to downsize their home. Downsizing is an overwhelming task for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult for older adults who have accumulated a lifetime of memories in their home.
Faced with the challenge of deciding what to keep and what to discard, you may be wondering how you can help preserve precious memories throughout the downsizing process. We’ve gathered a few tips to help you cut through the clutter and make space for what’s important:
Make a plan
Before you begin the task of downsizing, it’s helpful to discuss the topic with your parent or older loved one to ensure everyone is on the same page. Creating a plan and setting goals will help to minimize stress down the road and make the entire downsizing process more organized.
Digitize photos, videos, and letters
Technology makes it easier than ever to preserve memories and reduce excess clutter. For example, photos, diplomas, journals, letters, cards, and other paperwork can be scanned into a digital format and uploaded to external hard drives or cloud storage. Home videos on VHS tapes or film can also be converted into digital formats for easier storage. Creating a digital archive will ensure memories are protected from aging and damage while eliminating the need for bulky file cabinets or storage bins.
Does your parent have a large accumulation of small mementos, collectibles, or keepsakes? Consider creative ways to condense their treasured memories into a single, meaningful item. For example, take photos of the individual items and compile them into a scrapbook. Or choose a few special items and photographs and arrange them together in a shadowbox. Your parent can then proudly display their favorite memories in their new assisted living apartment – without taking up too much space.
Give to family
Another way to help preserve memories is by passing along gifts and heirlooms to family members. It’s often easier for older adults to let go of an item that has sentimental value if they know it will be enjoyed and put to good use by the next generation.
Downsizing a home can be physically and emotionally draining for everyone involved. Remember to be patient with your parent and give them plenty of time to decide what they want to keep, donate, or give away. When you come across belongings that hold special meaning, don’t be afraid to try some of these creative solutions to help preserve memories and family history.