Call it downsizing, paring down, or cleaning house– letting go of personal belongings can be a difficult process for aging parents who want to age in place at home.
According to AARP, 9 out of 10 seniors want to remain in their own homes as they grow older. While today’s generation of elderly are more or less in better health than previous generations, aging in place presents many challenges – a cluttered physical environment possibly being one barrier to longevity and safety.
After decades in one home, items eventually piles up in cupboards, closets, attics, and basements. However, the problem comes in as aging parents become emotionally attached to items adult children and caregivers label as “junk”. Whether it is reams of old newspapers and magazines, trinkets, memorabilia, or other collections of items, emptying out these belonging can lead to conflict and pain for both sides.
If you have struggled with getting your aging parent to budge on the issue of downsizing or the emotional becomes toll has simply become too much, it may be time to bring in an objective 3rd party to help with the decluttering process. These trained professionals have the tools to emotional discharge the situation to keep the cleaning process moving smoothly and may also handle some or all of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.
Here are 3 resources that can help you clean out and make room for Mom and Dad’s later years of life:
- The doctor – While your physician is not going to be hauling any junk out the front door, a visit to the doctor may help elucidate underlying causes of your parents’ saving behavior. It may be a serious mental health issue such as depression or hoarding, or perhaps another underlying illness that’s getting in the way of your parent maintaining his or her environment. The geriatrician in conjunction with other health care providers can also help you assess if a transition to a higher level of care is needed, such as the addition of home care service hours.
- Junk removal services – Check in a local directory such as Yelp or Google to find local junk removal companies. A team will arrive right at your front door and help remove unwanted items from the home. Be sure to confirm they accept the types of items you want to unload. This method of intervention could seem extreme to aging parents who are protective of their belongings and home.
- Hire a professional organizer – The National Association for Professional Organziers is an excellent place to turn to locate a professional organizer who specializing working with older adults, seniors, and baby boomers. The one-on-one attention and expertise provides a high-touch feel and sense of comfort for aging parents who may be weary about the downsizing process.
What other resources or recommendations would you provide a caregiver seeking to downsize an aging parent’s home?