happy three generations familyAn occupation therapist for over 13 years, Kris Rogers has some great ideas. As the spouse of an Army National Guard Serviceman who was deployed overseas, Kim has seen the need for assistance as families struggle to balance their day-to-day activities with caregiving for a family member.

She has some advice, published originally on the Hartman Inventory Blog:

“You might be a member of the growing over-50 population, or possibly you have parents who are. Both generations are impacted by the many decisions to be made now, and in the years to come. One major decision is to make a move to a smaller house, condo, or assisted living facility.

Approach the subject lightly. When you are the parent making this decision, you might be leaving a house that you’ve called home for decades. Give yourself time to mentally and emotionally prepare for the move. Also consider the attachment your adult children have to the house if this is where their childhood memories were created. If you are the adult child who needs to begin this difficult discussion, remember to respect your parents’ desire for independence.

Dealing with downsizing

The first process in downsizing is usually to give items away to family members. Create a home inventory of all contents, and then bring the family together to learn what each person would like to have. Create a comfortable, open discussion. Share stories, stating what makes each item special (grandpa’s chair you shared when he read to you or grandma’s candy dish filled with your favorite chocolates). Use the inventory list to document who wants what, so they can be distributed appropriately when it is time for the move.

Belongings can be placed in storage when you/they just aren’t ready to give everything away, or when saving furniture for family members who will be establishing their own homes soon. The inventory will also help determine the amount of insurance required while in storage.

Tips to help make the downsizing process easier

  • Map out the new place to determine what furniture will go where. This will help encourage excitement if this move is not by choice.
  • Have a garage sale or auction. Sell higher-value items on eBay or Craig’s List.
  • Donate books, VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs to libraries, schools, senior communities, and shelters
  • Donate clothing and furniture to charities – specifically those that cater to seniors, veterans, the homeless, etc.

If this is too much for you to handle, hire a professional organizer, moving professional, or auctioneer to assist you.

During this transition, the inventory will be a living document to assist with the various steps in this process by 1) creating the initial list of all assets, 2) identifying what items to give to whom, 3) editing the original document for items in storage, and 4) editing the original inventory list to note the items in the new residence, whether a smaller home, condo, or assisted living facility.


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