I’m only 25 and just finished my university degree. My mother has been my financial support throughout my education and has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Her living situation is unfit for her to be living alone in a large house by herself. Undergoing cancer treatment, I suggested moving into a smaller home, but with all the items she has accumulated throughout the years, she is having a difficult time selling and donating her possessions. Feeling attached to items makes the transition almost unbearable. How do I go about helping my mother downsize?
How can the younger generation help with the process of downsizing?
The age group of 25 to 35 is either getting out of university or in the process of starting their own families’ leaving them in a tricky situation when having to think about downsizing their parents’ property. Where does one start? How do I bring up the topic? Asking your parents about or to downsize is an emotional process.
“What if you fall?” or “What if a medical issue comes up and I’m not there to help you?”
The common concern the younger generation dwells on is whether their aging parents’ safety is at risk if they don’t downsize. Downsizing does not entirely mean moving to a new place. In most cases, downsizing is de-cluttering your property. How does one bring up the question about downsizing without appearing overbearing or judgmental? Here are three simple steps:
- Sit your parent down and discuss the topic.
You want to downsize for your parents safety in their home environment but they don’t think anything needs to change. How do you change their mind?
The topic of downsizing isn’t an easy process for families. It’s best for the younger generation to prepare for their parents future but it’s a risky conversation to say the least. It’s not a discussion of planning your parents’ death; rather, a process of adjusting into a clutter-free lifestyle. In some cases, the topic of downsizing is associated with preparation before a loved one’s death. Yes, it’s a macabre topic but death inevitably happens to everyone. Assessing the groundwork in case that situation arrives –whether, death is knocking on your parents’ door or they want to move into a smaller place – is a practical step in preparing yourself and your parents for this transition.
Planning ahead by talking to one another is the right course of action to prepare for an unexpected death or accident issue leaving you with a large sum of possessions you don’t know what to do with. A common cause of de-cluttering occurs after major or minor life events which allows the opportunity to trigger a downsizing mindset. Even if it’s a minor clear-out, talk to your parent(s) about downsizing.
As simple as that sounds, listening can be difficult. Two different generations have different temperaments on how to handle downsizing. In some cases, there is more than one sibling handling the downsizing process for their parents.
“Who gets what” and “who wants …” can start a feud between siblings.
The younger generation is in a delicate position dealing with their parents junk. To the parents, this junk is embedded with memories which the younger generation needs to be considerate of. This is a stressful transition where tempers for both parties can be easily affected no matter how usually happy your family is.
There are two personality traits: the “Throwers” and the “Keepers”. The throwers are those who prefer a quick and efficient clear-out while the keepers are compelled to preserve the memorable items. Most of the time, the younger generation wants a big throw out without considering their families feelings.
“Is this item necessary to keep or would it be profitable to others furnishing an apartment or those who lost their items due to a natural disaster.”
It’s best to remember to keep a balance between what gets thrown out and deliberate over decisions of what is most memorably involved in your family history. What is worth keeping? Listening to one another is an important process is downsizing.
- Be patient
How long did it take to fill the house? If it took over 20 years to fill the house then it won’t take you 2 days to empty out and organize everything. Be patient. A lot of discussion will be involved on almost all your parents’ items. The younger generation is settling in a fast-pace environment but- slow down. Think about the position your parents are in and how transitioning is a scary process. You, yourself, may be building a new career or family which takes time.
Discuss. Cooperate. Start de-cluttering now.
Professional organizations start with the handling the smaller items. Yes. Starting with whatever is in your drawers is a start! Ask yourself questions while sifting through items:
“Am I still likely to wear this? Am I keeping it for a reason or would someone else be profitable owning this?”
By starting with the smaller items like clothes, décor, and utensils you’ll work your way up to the other items like electronics and furniture. If you can’t find a good home for these items then consult with a professional. If need be, professionals are easily accessible in helping organize and selling the odd items like a vintage Mickey Mouse cookie jar.
The future is inevitable. First, talk to your parents about downsizing as a precaution to help both you and your parents handle items. This allows a reassuring security to make an easier transition into a healthier and safer environment. Whether the younger generation starts the conversation or the parents, it is best to talk now.
Transition Squad Employee