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| March 21, 2011 |
If your loved one has lived in the same home for many years, the amount of possessions that have been acquired over the years can be shocking. To a caregiver, what looks like piles of clutter represents a lifetime of memories for the elder. Working through emotional side of moving is a major issue – and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
But once the emotions are handled, getting down to the nitty-gritty packing begins. Here is a practical guide to getting a houseful of “stuff” sorted out, packed up and moved out.
Too often, families don’t start going through their elderly loved one’s things until they’ve signed a contract on their new home. Then as they become overwhelmed with other details of moving, they quickly abandon the process and frantically throw everything into boxes at the last minute.
Moving to a smaller home is much less stressful if you start to weed through your things at least three to six weeks before the actual moving day.
Go Room by Room
One of the hardest parts of packing is knowing where to start. Looking around, its easy to get overwhelmed. To avoid this, focus on one room at a time. Start with the areas of the home that haven’t been used as much, such as the attic, the basement, the laundry room or spare room.
It’s easier to get rid of belongings from rooms that are mostly used for storage. There is less sentimental attachment and more items that are simply being stored rather than used.
Once you’re in a room, the same philosophy applies: start with one closet, one drawer, one tabletop. You will feel less overwhelmed once the first box is packed and sealed.
Sort and Separate
Create four piles and place each item into one of the four as you go through them:
1. Take With Me: This is the easy pile. Pack up things that are moving to the new home.
2. Store: If you or your loved one will have some storage space or closets at the new home, make a pile of items that can go into storage. Seasonal items such as winter clothes, and holiday decorations fit into this category.
3. Donate: The most cherished heirlooms can be passed on to children and grandchildren. Other things can go to charity. Donating provides the benefits of a nice tax deduction. More importantly, the elder will take comfort in knowing their treasures will find a good home with someone else.
4. Sell: Downsizing is an opportunity to make some money off of items that are no longer needed. List them on e-Bay, or have a garage sale. For antiques collections that might be valuable, do your research to determine value, then contact a professional dealer for possible sale or consignment.
Decide If an Item Stays or Goes
When it comes to going through item by item, here are some questions to ask to determine if any item should stay or go:
- When was the last time I used this?
- If I do use it, how often and why?
- What purpose does it serve?
- Does it serve a purpose in this new life that I’m moving to?
- Do I own another item that can serve the same purpose as this one?
- Is this item something I love? Does it have sentimental value that can’t be replaced?
- Is it in good shape?
- Will it last for a long time?
- Does it need repair, and if so, how much will that cost and is it worth the price?
- Do I know someone else who would benefit a lot more from its use?
Keep items you’re donating or giving to friends or family in one room or area of the house, preferably somewhere that you don’t go very often. Or better yet, once you have a lot of items ready, call the people whom you’d like to have it, whether it’s your family or a charitable organization. Get items out of reach as soon as possible. It’s too easy to change your mind or to start pulling items out of the pile.
Try to envision where every object will fit in the new house. That cherished table of mom’s might look nice over by the window, with her favorite flower vase and a family photo on top. But the china cabinet that’s 6-feet wide might have to go.
You will need to know how your furniture will (or won’t) fit into the new space – particularly large items such as a sofa and a bed – so measure everything. You will also need to get the room measurements of the new space. Ask if you can take measurements or if there is a floorplan available. Don’t forget about the location of doors and windows as this will be a factor in furniture placement.