My mother, Priscilla, is 86 years old and her husband, Don, is 90. Until recently, they lived in a mobile home park for 18 years. Don has dementia and it has been progressing to a point that in recent years Priscilla has taken care of everything; the housework, their finances, meal planning, and preparation, arranging for home repairs/maintenance, yard work, all the driving… everything! Priscilla also has neuropathy in her feet (due to a foot surgery gone wrong) causing difficulty to walk and has experienced a few too many falls lately. My siblings and I said, enough! It’s time for Priscilla and Don to move to a community where they have freedom from all of the day-to-day chores and upkeep, plus on-site care.
We found a wonderful community–it’s like living on a cruise ship. The apartments are very small (600 square feet), but right outside their door are all the amenities of a cruise ship: saline pool, exercise room and trainers, massage therapists, gift shop, library, movie theater, demonstration room, bar, restaurants, hair salon, chapel and a concierge to arrange everything for you. Heck, I want to move there! At 86 Priscilla, amazingly, does yoga three times a week and she loves to swim–so this is going to be heaven for her.
This is one of the moments in your life that you know is coming, but you can easily get overwhelmed by the thought of doing–DOWNSIZING and MOVING. Because, before THE MOVE there is the ENORMOUS task of going through all of the STUFF, STUFF, and more STUFF. Priscilla and Don were wildflower and scenic photographers. You can’t even imagine the thousands of slides they accumulated over the decades. As we started, my siblings and I (all very opinionated) were disagreeing on how to move “mom” and sell the house. I said to my siblings, “To keep the family peace we are going to divide and conquer!” My role – THE MOVE, my brother – GARAGE/ESTATE SALE, and my sister – SELL THE HOUSE.
With any project that seems overwhelming, it is helpful to break it down into tasks with deadlines. It can help you gain control and feel a sense of calm. I pulled together our project plan and gave Priscilla her tasks that she could complete on her own. Such as change of address notices, canceling utilities not needed before house sale, mail forwarding, changing home insurance, collect important papers/valuables, etc. For complete lists I use ListPlanIt.
Priscilla and I went through their entire house and put “dot” stickers on everything they wanted to take with them. This made it very easy when I worked with the movers to pack. If it had a dot it got packed, if not it was left behind. It took quite some convincing for my mother to not pack up her entire kitchen. I had to remind her one of the reasons for the move was so she wouldn’t need to meal plan and cook as much–if at all. The one area she would not downsize–her spices, not even her pumpkin pie spice. We contacted Lile Moving and Storage to pack and move their belongings.
Priscilla wanted some new furniture and we needed to maximize their small space. We designed a floor plan to determine where and how the existing and new furniture would fit.
Then, we went to Ikea. I thought Priscilla would faint at the enormity of it. Even though we were armed with a plan of what specific items we wanted, we were there three hours. I was exhausted, but not Priscilla! From there we went to several stores in search of wall-mounted switch lights–not an easy find these days. We found two at Lowes.
I drove Priscilla home and continued on to the Container Store to purchase elfa drawer systems and other organizing goodies for their downsized space.
The weekend of THE MOVE Priscilla and Don stayed at my sister’s home while my husband and I worked with the movers, assembled furniture, installed lamps, shelves, and pullout drawers, got all of their electronics working, and organized their downsized stuff in their new home. You can view THE MOVE activity and before/after photos here.
If you, or someone you know is ready for downsizing consider working with professionals, such as myself and Lile Moving and Storage. It will be less overwhelming, less emotional, and less stressful. It will also save time and money.