Greetings to all!
Welcome to March
- the month that brings us St. Patrick's Day, the First Day of
Spring, and my birthday! A very special month indeed! Spring is
also the time of new beginnings so a very special welcome to all
the new AgeWiseLiving™ subscribers!
Spring is also the "traditional" time
for cleaning, sorting . . . and getting rid of "stuff".
So this month's newsletter is about how to get the Spring cleaning
process started with your parents and help them get started getting
rid of "stuff". Are you ready? Then read on!
Until next time, welcome to Spring!
ARTICLE: HELPING YOUR PARENTS
GET RID OF "STUFF"
Because of a crisis, my sisters and I had to move our mother into
an assisted living which also meant emptying out her home. Unfortunately,
as almost always happens when there's a crisis, the timing couldn't
have been worse and, because of our work schedules, we had 1 week
in which to do it!! While my parents were the most organized people
you could imagine and my sister and I worked well together, one
week wasn't nearly enough time to sort through the "stuff"
my parents had accumulated throughout their 50 years of marriage
and certainly not enough to make good decisions about what to
keep and what to get rid of. That was almost 7 years ago and to
this day, I wonder what family "treasures" were lost
in the rush.
How can you save yourself,
your family, and your aging loved one the hassle, stress, and
years of regrets over your lost treasures? By starting
the process now!
Great . . . but how do you
even begin such an overwhelming task? You begin with what professional
organizers call an "initial sort" - better known to
Vicky-D's (members of the Victorian/Depression-era generation)
as the old fashioned ritual of "Spring cleaning"! By
the way, if your aging loved one won't agree to even discussing
Spring cleaning, call me to see how Generational Coaching can
help. But if they will . . . . before you start:
1. Agree that everything
will be sorted into 3 "classifications" - keep, sell/donate/give,
2. Agree that all decisions
will be made by the owner - and only the owner. As hard as this
will probably be on you, allowing the owner to make the decisions
allows them to keep control over their possessions - a key element
to the overall success.
3. Agree to a time-frame
- ideally 30 minutes, but no more than 60 minutes per room - and
stick to the time.
4. Agree that an item may
be touched only once before deciding whether to keep, sell/donate/give,
or toss. If they can't decide, then it should go into the keep
pile. Even if ultimately they only get rid of 1 item, it's a start!
5. Start with a relatively
"easy" room - one where of the most stuff has already
sorted out of their daily life such as the garage, an extra bedroom,
or a "junk room" (the out-of-control version of the
6. Agree that their entire
home won't be completed in one day. Even though they're only allowed
a maximum of one hour per room, it's a big job to sort and dispose
or put back. (Don't worry . . . there are, after all, 3 months
Since the initial sort is
done by the owner - and you have no say in their decisions - should
you be there? YES!
This is a huge and, for
most people, difficult, job. Just having you there for moral support
and to cheer them on will keep them motivated, focused, and on
track. You can also help set up the boxes, take out the garbage,
etc, and do any "heavy lifting".
In addition, since "one
man's trash is another man's treasure", you'll probably want
to be there in case something about to be disposed of (in the
sell/donate or toss piles only!) that you would like to
By the way, while you're
there, if you have items of your own stored at your parent's house,
this may be a good time to get it out. However, it could be an
emotional stumbling block for your parent(s). They may want to
hold onto your things to draw you home. If that's the case, rather
than derail their Spring cleaning, at least do a "keep, sell/donate,
toss" and reduce as much as you can.
Many people don't get rid
of stuff because they've seen Antiques Roadshow and are
sure they'll throw out something worth a million dollars! Although
unlikely, it's not impossible! Therefore, if that's a concern,
get an appraisal. (When we were cleaning out my parent's home,
it was a lot easier knowing that there had been an appraisal done
a couple of years before and we weren't getting rid of any priceless
antiques!) For appraisers in your area, check out the American
Society of Appraisers (http://www.appraisers.org)
and the Appraisers Association of America (http://www.appraisersassoc.org).
Once everything is sorted,
then clean and put back the "keeps". You may also want
to suggest they get a storage unit for items they want to keep
but have no place for. Storing it out of their daily life will
allow them to keep what they want while at the same time making
it easier to get rid of it in the future.
Dispose of the "tosses" - and do it immediately before
"seller's remorse" sets in and they want to "un-toss"!
And then, sell/donate/give the rest.
You may want to try selling
the stuff and a tag sale is one way to do it. Unfortunately, that's
not always an option - especially in a city. You might also see
if a consignment shop will take anything or you may want to try
Some companies will buy
whole "lots" of specific items such as books and silver
and an appraiser may be able to make a referral. There's also
a company called 1-(800) GOT-JUNK that will just buy everything.
For more information, you can call them at 1-(800) GOT-JUNK or
go to http://www.1800gotjunk.com
While researching this article,
I found a great website called "EHow" (http://www.ehow.com)
that has all kinds of useful information. For example, for how
to get rid of what you don't want, go to
how to sell stuff on-line
and how to plan a garage sale
Or, you may want to donate
it. When we were moving my mother, we were more than willing to
give the stuff away to a religious or civic organization, library,
senior center, school etc, as long as they would come and get
it right away. Unfortunately, many organizations don't pick up,
don't have the space to store things until they have a rummage
sale, and most charities are very specific about what items they
want. There are literally millions of charity websites but for
a list of charities and what they will take, whether they will
pick up, etc., go to JustGive (http://www.justgive.org/html/ways/ways7.html).
If you can't be there to
help with the sort, or you don't have the time to arrange the
distribution, many professional organizers can handle it for you.
For a list of professional organizers in your area, go to the
National Association of Professional Organizers (http://www.NAPO.com).
And finally, giving - as in giving to family
members. In the next AgeWiseLiving™ newsletter, we'll look
at, among other things, how to distribute items that more than
one family member wants, what to do about items that are sentimental
to the parent but that none of the family members want, etc. Stay
FYI . . . Juice+
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called Juice+. Check it out at http://www.juiceplus.com/nsa/pages/Home.soa?site=el69129.
For lots more information about this and
many other important eldercare issues, attend an AgeWiseLiving™
seminar. For upcoming dates and locations, please go to Seminars.
Space is filling fast, though, so reserve your space now!
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