By Ann Ruckdaschel
This is the second in a series of articles addressing topics that adult children should talk about with their parents. if you missed part 1, click here.
Many older adults find that the “old family homestead” has become too big for them. Stairs become a hassle, there’s too much to clean. Winter brings higher heating bills and snow shoveling. With the kids grown and out of the house, there’s just too much space to keep up with, so downsizing, usually into a single-level condo or apartment, or assisted living facility becomes a reasonable option. One big question becomes what to do with all the stuff that has been accumulated over the years?
Dealing with “Stuff”
Everybody has stuff and usually more than we need! But if we must downsize, we need to think about how much room there will be in the new place. What do we absolutely want/need to keep? What do the children want to take? And what do we do with the rest of it?
The New York Times published a great article about just this topic [read it here]. In the article they state that the children of older adults usually live in smaller spaces. They may limit themselves only to smaller items or necessities, and forgo the fine china, crystal, and silverware that may have been passed down for several generations, simply because they have no room for it.
So, Here’s the best way to deal with “all of the stuff” when moving to smaller spaces:
- Ask your children to list anything they may want of yours and either give it to them now or put their name on it and/or make a list. About 10 years ago (maybe longer), my parents started having us go through their house and write down what we would want because they didn’t want us “fighting over any of the stuff after they’re gone.”
- Depending on the items you have that “nobody wants to take”, call in an estate appraiser – They can usually give a pretty good estimate as to what your belongings will bring at an estate sale or auction, and help arrange for an auction or sale.
- Use self storage wisely – If a kid wants something but has no room for it, self storage is an option, but it also comes at a cost. If it will be years before they are able to use the full formal dining set that they have in storage, the cost of storage may be more than the value of the dining set.
- Consider donating items to charity. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are always looking for items that can help families get established in their new homes.
- Above all, don’t take it personally if none of your kids want your stuff.
Once you’ve decided what you want to take with you, what the kids will take, and how to “find good homes” for the remaining stuff, I believe that you will find that much of the pressure of making a move is relieved.
If you’d like to get a second opinion on your upcoming move or would like assistance in making arrangements for this and other topics covered in this series, or just don’t know where to start, Prairie Rose Care Management is here to help. Contact us to arrange for a brief consultation to get your questions answered.