Every time Julie brings the kids to visit her parents it seems that the house that she grew up in gets smaller and smaller. Dad and Mom are incredibly active seniors, only in their mid 70’s and healthy but they never throw anything out. Every room of the house is filled with memorabilia from their travels, old and new gadgets, and newspapers and magazines. Julie and her brother’s old bedrooms are exactly how they left them nearly 30 years ago. Julie is concerned because if anything happened to either of her parents, she not only has no idea what the care plan is, but dealing with the house and its contents will also be a nightmare.
Why Seniors Should Create a Long-Term Life Plan
Creating a long-term care plan for aging can be overwhelming for older adults. A comprehensive plan includes financial, healthcare and housing decisions that require professional assistance and a practical approach. Additionally, it is often an emotional experience for older adults and their families. It is advisable to address the elements of long-term planning in the context of a ‘long-term life plan’ and to do so well in advance of one’s need to utilize it. Deciding upon healthcare and housing options during an emergency situation can negatively affect the decision-making process. A first step in a long-term life plan is a vision of where and how the older adult desires to live while aging, whether to age in place, downsize housing, or move to a senior living community.
Clearing the Clutter to Downsize Your Home and Plan for the Future
Reducing to Prepare for Aging
A major stressor for older adults when long-term life planning and considering a change in living environment is the need to reduce their belongings. The physical and emotional fortitude required to pack up and dispose of household items and personal treasures that represent decades of one’s life is daunting at any age, but especially for older adults. Whether or not one is to downsize to a smaller home, encouraging and assisting older adults to reduce their belongings before it becomes necessary is a proactive step for long-term life planning.
Reduce to Increase Safety
Assisting older adults in reducing and organizing their belongings enhances the safety of their living environment. Clearing floor areas and surfaces supports aging in place initiatives. Reducing clutter, furniture and tripping hazards can prepare a home for the use of canes, walkers and wheelchairs, as well as eliminate slip and fall hazards and allow items that are used daily to be more accessible.
Clearing out boxes, papers, magazines, extension cords and flammables eliminates fire hazards. Disposing of expired medications in medicine cabinets and expired food in kitchen pantries protects elders from ingesting items that are dangerous to their health.
Long-Term Life Planning: Make it a Family Activity
Talk to your older adult about the benefits of organizing and reducing their belongings and make it a family activity. Gifting the services of a professional organizer is a great idea for birthdays or anniversary celebrations.
Spend quality time with parents going through storage areas, garages and attics. Adult children can volunteer to pack up and take their childhood belongings. Parents may feel better about giving up familiar items if they know that another family member wants them. Encourage the donation of gently used items to local families in need or a house of worship; donate books to libraries and schools. Organize a yard sale or online sale and use the proceeds to fund a special trip or toward a purchase that would bring them joy.
Review the “Downsizing Your Belongings Checklist” to assist you in getting started.
Green Hill Can Help You Downsize Your Home
If your parent or relative is ready to downsize and move to a senior living community, they may be eligible for complementary assistance. This spring, Green Hill looks to make the transition easier for your loved one by offering 50% off the Independent and Assisted Living Community Fee, along with a FREE Home Downsizing Assessment by Professional Organizer, Ms. Eileen Bergman. “For those in transition it can be a trying time to let go of possessions that bring back fond memories of past events and loved ones. Together we will determine how to best downsize your belongings in order to accomplish your goals.” Ms. Bergman is a NAPO Specialist in Residential Organizing and Workplace Productivity. For more information on this special offer call 973-766-9355.
You’ll not only enjoy a vibrant lifestyle, but peace of mind for your future with the continuum of care available at our retirement community in West Orange, New Jersey. Learn more about the senior living options available at Green Hill by contacting us today.