I received this note from a friend of mine who recently experienced the “downsizing dilemma” with her mother. I wanted to share it with you to hear first-hand from someone who’s traveling this path!
I know you focus on helping people downsize to smaller homes. While my mom recently moved into a senior assisted living community, I wanted to share the experience my family and I are currently going through. Maybe this will help some of your clients, too.
The hardest part was getting Mom to finally agree that “it was time.” She was reluctant to move out of the home she and Dad bought about 20 years ago that was to be their retirement home. Dad passed about 16 years ago, so living there really turned out to be a challenge for Mom to handle on her own. As she aged, of course this got harder.
She’s 82 now and until this past year, she was still trying to power wash the house, clean windows, rake leaves, shovel snow, etc. With a myriad of health issues, naturally my siblings and I didn’t want her doing this. None of us live close enough to be able to really help with these chores regularly.
We tried unsuccessfully to get her to start going through things that she could throw away or donate. Once the time came to move, we faced the challenge of a major clean-out. This created a lot of stress for her and all of us. So my advice to anyone anticipating a move like this is … start early and plan ahead!
After three months, we’re still not done but we’re getting close to being able to put the house on the market. Even though it took a while, I feel like it’s been pretty successful in spite of the stress. Now that Mom is moved and getting happier by the week in her new digs, it’s easier.
Here’s how we are managing the clean-out:
- First, all the siblings and grandchildren claimed what they wanted. Things like china, jewelry, memorabilia, furniture and appliances were put on a list. If two people wanted the same item, we handled it reasonably. (Thankfully we all love each other and get along. I know some families aren’t this lucky and this part can be a struggle.)
- We set up several days where we got together to go through the house room by room. We packed up items for donation and kept a list of these things for tax purposes, so Mom can take a tax deduction.
- Some items need to be appraised to see if they’re worth auctioning or selling ourselves. They’re nice things, but none of the family members really want them. For example: Sterling silverware, fur coat, brass lamps from Korea. This money can also go to Mom.
- We rented a dumpster a couple of days. It seems sad to throw away so many things, but if they’re not suitable to donate, it’s just what you have to do.
- Cleaning and getting ready to sell: We’re just approaching this step, but we’ll probably hire a service for this. Cleaning has been neglected so it needs a thorough top-to-bottom before we put it on the market.
John, thanks for all your support and advice along the way. You helped make it easier for us with the resources you shared.