Leaving a family home can be as much an emotional disconnection as a physical one. A family home is full of memories, but at what point does the cost of emotional connection to a house outweigh an older adult’s wellbeing? It’s inevitable that at some point it will become more clear that the season for your family to enjoy the security of that home has passed. The question is, HOW does one even begin the process emotionally or physically, without being buried under a mountain of unneeded but previously loved possessions?
Let the professionals help
If figuring this all out is just a bit too overwhelming, there are businesses who specialise in helping you through this process. The beauty of using an outsider is that they aren’t emotionally involved in your life, so they have the benefit of viewing your situation from a fresh angle. They can assist with de-cluttering and navigating your move with ease. I sat down for a quick chat with two experienced women who provide practical solutions through their businesses which specialise in this area:
Transition Navigators: with a warm and welcoming twinkle, Robyn is experienced in helping older people and their families make informed choices. Her organisation works with older people who are planning to downsize from their family home, looking for support to stay in their home, or with families when a health crisis signals a change in circumstance. Her role is to research the best options and work with older adults and their family to navigate a smooth transition. Robyn has a wealth of useful experience, with a PhD on the wellbeing of independently living older people – both those living in retirement villages and in the community.
Neat Spaces: Helen’s business, as a Professional Organiser, works alongside elders, helping bring more order and efficiency while de-cluttering and managing life transitions. Her services include setting up sustainable systems, storage solutions, creating usable spaces, paper management and deceased estate assistance. Your own private Marie Kondo with a relatable touch!
Robyn & Helen’s tips to clean up and move out
Ideally, start this task early so you can develop Plan B, downsize your home and decide where to move rather than waiting for a health crisis where options are taken out of your hands. Begin by thinking about what items are really important to you, and then have a chat with your children or loved ones about them. Belongings that were really important to previous generations can hang a heavy mantle of responsibility on your shoulders. If you don’t want these items, and neither do your children then some difficult choices need to be made. Although you might feel a bit silly, you could try the approach of holding the item, thanking it for its use and value for a moment, and then releasing it. If you’re going through this process with your elderly parent, remember to show empathy and listen to the associated stories, even if you’ve heard them plenty before! Helen likens the process to an onion - peeling one layer at a time. She notes there is a fear around the connection of letting possessions go, meaning letting memories go. Often clients think when they donate or sell an item, they’re letting go of all the special memories, but in taking time to say goodbye you can retain those memories. Find the peace from moving into a new season. A new space can provide the fresh appeal of a less cluttered environment which will result in a more peaceful mind.
Robyn and Helen’s businesses can and do work together regularly if needed by their clients.