Originally published in SNAP Toronto (August 2008) & Active Adult (March/April 2009)

At the best of times, preparing to move to a new home is a frustrating, time-consuming and exhausting experience.  It becomes even more difficult when you're trying to help an older relative move from a large place that's been home for 30, 40 or even 50 years to a smaller, and often safer, more suitable location such as a senior's apartment, or even a small bungalow.

That senior, as a child during the Great Depression and growing up during the war economy of World War II, was programmed to save absolutely everything because of the inherent shortage of goods and money, and has continued to do so throughout a lifetime.  It's very difficult for that senior to dispose of anything, and becomes even more difficult and traumatic when every single item is a precious reminder of times past.

When you're helping that older relative prepare to move, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Start early: As soon as you know that the necessity of a move is imminent, even 6 months to a year before the actual move. Encourage the senior to start distributing important items to family members and friends, and sharing the memories and history of each item as it's given away.
  • Give yourself time: Allow at least 4 to 6 weeks for actual move preparation - and involve the senior as much as possible.
  • Be realistic: Most "collections" are trash - but respect that they are of great importance and value to the senior. Dispose of them tactfully.
  • Prioritize: If the senior had to suddenly vacate a home, what would be the single, most precious possession that the senior would want to take away? What would the senior most regret leaving behind?
  • Accommodate: Having determined what that single, most precious possession might be, ensure that it moves with the senior to the new location, then consider ways in which you might incorporate other important items.
  • Be understanding and patient: Most of us keep mementos - a silly birthday card, a souvenir from a trip, an object of great sentimental value - items which are important to us, but totally unimportant to others. Remember how important your mementos are to you, and then think how important the accumulation of a lifetime of memories might be to your senior.

Mississauga Senior Real Estate: Working With a Lifestyle 55+ Affiliate

Have questions or need advice on how to make decisions based on choice and not circumstance? As a Lifestyle 55+ Affiliate, I believe that every senior deserves personalized service, deep local market knowledge and a commitment to putting their needs first. That's why I offer a range of services that are designed to meet the unique needs of seniors in Mississauga, including:

  • A free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your real estate goals and needs
  • Specialized expertise in helping seniors navigate the downsizing process
  • Access to a network of trusted professionals, including movers, estate planners and home stagers
  • A commitment to transparency, honesty and integrity in all of our dealings

If you have any questions about real estate in Mississauga or the downsizing process, don't hesitate to contact me, Deborah Clerk, Real Estate Sales Representative and Lifestyle55+ Affiliate with Keller Williams Real Estate Associates, Brokerage. I am here to help you every step of the way, and we look forward to working with you soon.

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