It can be difficult to say goodbye to the things we own. Older adults might have an even harder time doing so because many of their possessions may hold decades of meaning or sentimental value, and the thought of parting with these mementos can bring up a lot of unexpected emotions.
At some point, however, it will become necessary to let many of those things go. Decluttering and downsizing can make life much more manageable for your elderly relative. If you are about to start clearing out unneeded items from your loved one’s home, here are a few tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible for everyone.
Set Small, Realistic Goals
It is common for people to begin the decluttering process with a lot of energy, only to feel deflated after a day’s work that doesn’t even seem to have made a dent in the state of the home.
Focus instead on tackling one small area at a time. This can be a small room, a closet, a cabinet, or even one particular shelf. This will help keep work contained to one part of the home so that the rest of the house does not end up an even more chaotic place than it was before. Furthermore, it will be very easy to see the results of your work by the end of the day, and the sense of accomplishment will help encourage you to remain committed to your goals.
Take Your Time
If you have a specific date by which you need to move your loved one out of their current dwelling place, it is important that you start the decluttering process as soon as possible so that you don’t feel rushed. Even if you are not bound by time constraints, it is still advisable to work at a slow and steady pace. This will help both you and your loved one feel a lot less stressed about the process. Furthermore, it will reduce the risk of making mistakes, like throwing out items that your loved one wanted to keep.
Ask for Help
Depending on your loved one’s physical condition, they may not be capable of assisting when it comes to moving large objects or furniture. Don’t try to do these things alone. Ask others for assistance when necessary. Aside from the physical help you’ll receive, having their company may help the time pass more quickly as well and can help make the task seem less daunting.
Approach the Subject with Compassion
While it may be obvious to you that your older relative would be better off without all that stuff around, it’s important that keep in mind that they may be having a difficult time during the process. Speak with them about any items that they feel strongly about keeping so they can remember that they have agency in the process as well.
Contact an Estate Lawyer
Speaking with a lawyer who has significant experience in estate and elder law can help both you and your loved one understand what your best options are as your relative downsizes. A knowledgeable attorney may also be able to help your loved one understand the benefits of decluttering and downsizing if your attempts at convincing them aren’t going over as well as you would like.
If you have questions or need assistance as you work to create a plan to deal with your loved one’s affairs, we are here to offer guidance and support. Simply contact us to schedule a consultation.
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