1. Measure the Size of the New Space
Know the floor plan of your parent’s new apartment at assisted living, including total square feet. This will help you decide just how much downsizing needs to be done, and what rooms need to furnished.
2. Involve Your Parents
Get your parent involved in the process from the start. Ask what is essential for them to bring to their new home. Assuming there’s room, make sure to pack everything that important to your parent. If your parent wants to bring more than what’s possible, have a conversation about priorities and remind them that your family will take good care of items that can’t be brought along. Ask about any places they might have hidden important documents or objects.
3. Take Inventory
Take a good look around you parent’s home and see how much stuff you’re dealing with. Don’t forget to check the closets! Clothing is part of the downsizing equation too.
4. Involve Your Other Family Members
There are likely to be lots of objects important to you and your family that won’t be moving with your parent, but certainly shouldn’t be disposed of. Are there pieces of furniture, clothing, dishes or vases that are important to your siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins? Invite your other family members over to the house your parent is moving from to see if there’s anything special they’d like to keep. Maybe they’ll even help with the move too!
5. Yard Sale or Estate Sale
After your parent has identified everything she or he wants to bring along to assisted living, and after you and your family have had a chance to pick through the rest, there’s likely to be plenty of items of value remaining. Have a yard-sale to get rid of yet more. Consider donating anything remaining that could potentially be used by someone else.
6. Donating to Charity
Call the Goodwill or St. Vincent dePaul to have them pick up any items that could benefit others. After all the preceding steps, most of what’s left at your parent’s old home may not be valuable to anyone. If it’s more than you can haul to the dump on your own, call a junk disposal service. You can use earnings from the yard-sale to offset the cost. These services will even remove garbage and debris from in a home so that you can prepare to sell the house if that’s your family’s intention.
7. Decorating the New Apartment
In Joan Lunden’s book for caregivers “Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul” she describes furnishing and decorating her mother’s residence at her senior community such that its rooms looked just like rooms in her old home. This will really help ease the transition for your parent, making their new home a little less alien. This is especially helpful for a parent with dementia.