P1040255 P1040284For the last three months I have been helping my mother move into a lovely retirement home. This was my focus rather than business other than my current clients. I thought I would share the experience as it might help some of you with your parents. I firmly believe that you can make your home prepared for “Aging in Place” by a few extra measures or a small remodel. But when is it time to leave your home? In mom’s case it would not have taken much to prepare the bathroom and add a small ramp to the outside, we already had added handrails in the garage. However she felt that she would not be able to continue to maintain her home or her large yard, which she dearly loved to work in. This concern about getting outside to do her gardens caused her stress and from my standpoint she needed more social interaction. We had talked about this move for years and now at age 93 when a room become available she took it.

My first hint would be to get on a waiting list at the location you prefer, sometimes they are long. And if something happens medically you will need to move fast to secure a room.

I believe the parent or owner needs to go through their own belongings and choose what is important to take. Your job is to be patient in this process, encourage letting go but allow their memories. To do this I removed everything (small items) that we didn’t need to the garage, or you could use an extra room. Her favorite saying was “somebody might want this or give this to… My response was ok I’ll just put this in the garage.” These items were available for the family to see and go through and take what they wanted. Next my sister helped clean her closet and drawers. My daughters and I packed up kitchen items, xmas and photos. We were scaling down from about 1600 sq ft to 600 sq ft.

We had purchased her family room furniture in preparation of scaling down some day so I knew which items were going. When we accepted the room I measured it and drew the layout of the space, then measured and placed her furniture. We were able to take the family room pieces and all of her bedroom furniture. I put her tall dresser in the closet and doubled the closet rods as a space saver. I also took her large desk which she uses all the time instead of purchasing a small table since she eats her meals in the dining hall. I also used a small desk and put it in the bedroom for her sewing machine which was one of the required “memory” items. I tagged which artwork was going. All this was important for her to know what she was taking and how it would fit. Since I knew which furniture was going I added 2 paint colors for accent walls in her new home. I also utilized one set of custom drapes for her bedroom.

This knowledge also allowed me to explain on the walk through of the home with the Realtor how I planned on staging the home so she knew what condition it would be in to show.

We first made the move in one day into her new home and installed and put everything away so that when she came it felt as comfortable as her “owned” home. We hung artwork, made beds the whole works! While we were packing up her existing home I had the helpers move the remaining furniture in place for staging, then we added some artwork. I basically removed everything from an upstairs and merged it downstairs and rearranged art and furniture. We left items for her to be able to live there a few days and her comments were “how beautiful everything looked” but it was still all hers just rearranged! I have to thank my family and the crew who helped us move as I couldn’t have done it without them. So gather your family and friends so you can make it a smooth transition.

Next my girls and sister helped with the cleaning. Then my husband helped update the bathroom with plumbing, we painted it and I add a new mirror and accessories. I did the final stages of staging, mostly her pieces a few of mine and it looked fresh and new. Now we were ready to put it on the market. At this point I had moved mom over to her new home and she was getting used to it.

Now that the home was sold I could move on to the estate sale. I hired a great lady, Darlene, who helped sort, tag and price the items remaining such as household items, linens, yard, tools and more. Then we tagged furniture and art inside. For 3 days Darlene who ran the sale and my 2 sisters and I sold belongings. Some of it was fun as some people were so excited about their new purchase, some of it was sad to see mom’s things sold. At the end of the sale I called 2 neighbors who volunteer for Children’s thrift store and they took some items, a truck from NWC came and we made a trip to Goodwill. Then we took the remaining furniture to a consignment shop for resale and also donated some last pieces. I mention all this because it is not always that easy to dispose of all the belongings in one place, so do some research.

My best advice to someone going through this experience is to take your time and enjoy the process. It is tedious and time consuming. Remember that an elder person isn’t as fast at thinking or remembering as you are, you need to repeat things often. In mom’s case she hadn’t moved for 46 years so this was a new experience for her. It is hard for them to let go of their home and belongings, have compassion. I explained everything I was doing, repeatedly. We laughed a lot, find humor in the process. Mostly enjoy this experience with your loved one, she was so appreciative and I was so glad she was living. And it goes without saying, get good helpers and support from your loved ones. I wish you luck.