Please click on the link below to read what Grand Parent Magazine has to say about Senior Moving and Relocation Services provided by Elder Move Inc.
If we had a question, problem, or needed advice we turned to Mom and Dad! As our parents age, we need to step in to help BUT when and how?
Every Sunday, our large family would get together at my in-laws home for dinner. As the years passed, the wonderful cooking we had grown accustomed to began to taste different and not enough food was being prepared. During kitchen cleanup we began to notice out dated and mouldy food in the fridge. It was at this point we started rotating Sunday dinners among our houses and Mom went from being the host to being a guest. We accomplished this in a gentle manner so that we didn’t hurt her feelings as she gave up making these dinners. This shift also ensured that she had one healthy nutritious meal each week and that none of us got sick. As I think back, this was the beginning of our roles changing.
During a doctor’s appointment her son attended with her, the topic of driving came up. A written driver’s test was ordered to be followed by a road test. Mom never made it to the road test as no passing grade was achieved on the written portion. She blamed her son for taking away her license and therefore her freedom, not the fact that she could not pass the exam herself! Was this the right time to step in or should we have waited until someone got hurt or even killed? I felt sad for my husband as she mentioned the loss of her driving every time we saw her, until she finally forgot.
A family I recently worked with had all the best arrangements in place for their mom. Her medications were blister packed and delivered by the pharmacy, home care was coming twice daily to administer her medication at the correct times, a companion service had been hired to come three times a week for company, there was bathing assistance, light housekeeping, meal preparation, a laundry service coming once a week, and nutritious meals were being prepared and delivered by her daughters along with any groceries or items she needed. The family was in daily contact with their mom and only minutes away if she needed them.
During a visit the daughters found out that their mom was also paying someone in addition to everything else that was set up. This particular “friend” would “help” mom out, drive her places, stay for afternoon tea and a visit, go pick up unneeded groceries and supplies, take out the garbage, etc. In return, their mom was paying this person for the help.
The daughters decided that it was time for a heart to heart talk with their mom, worried she was at risk of someone taking advantage of her financially. Soon afterward, a Power of Attorney was appointed, and the extent of the story started to unfold. The “paid friend” had accepted a brand new truck, new mattresses for her and her family, and an unknown amount of cash. Once the access to cash was gone so was the “friend!”
This family had done EVERYTHING right- they had arranged everything that was needed to keep their mom comfortable and did not feel they needed to take over her finances as she was still of sound mind, and yet the actions of an unscrupulous friend went unnoticed. Once again…when do we need to parent our parents?
The best advice I can give is to help your eyes, ears, and nose open. Do not let the little changes pass without some investigation. An open dialogue with your parents on a regular basis will help you notice small things that may seem insignificant at first. Grab the milk out of the fridge yourself and notice anything out of place. Take note of how clean their clothes are and if the home is in order. Ask questions about their service providers. Remember that they are your parents and do not necessarily want to give up that role by asking their children for help, so you’ll want to do these things gently, but they still have to be done.
Fear is the primary emotion affecting seniors in the downsizing process: fear of relationships, fear of possessions and fear of the unknown. Fear is very real. Being aware, acknowledging, appreciating and accepting this emotion is the first step to aiding in the transition process.
Emotions run very high when a senior is getting ready to move. They are leaving the house that they have invested 30, 40 or even 50+ years. They are leaving the community and neighbors where they raised their family, played bridge once a week, depended upon one another for that missing ingredient to finish dinner and watched over each other’s children. The safe and secure environment is being left behind to be replaced with uncertainty.
Family relationships are also taxed during this time. There hundreds of questions being asked, coming from all directions and sometimes even a lack of family support. The senior asks: Why don’t you want my prized possessions? While the children are overheard saying: Why did she throw that out? I wanted it. Why did Sue get the lamp I was taking? Who gets what? What goes where? Family members often begin to fight among themselves. Each person is an individual and everyone has their own way of doing things. Road blocks are formed and the task becomes a very bumpy ride.
A house full of “stuff” can be daunting. Imagine forty years of ”items” packed into a 1400sq ft home. Every crevice full, from the attic to the crawl space and do not forget the shed and garage! There is a fear of having to rush through the packing and the possibility of tossing out treasured items. What do I do with all the stuff? How can I accomplish this on my own? Where can I get boxes? What am I taking with me? What will fit into my new space? What do I trash? Will this go to charity? Does Mary want this figurine she gave me? This is going to take forever and I don’t have the time. The house has been sold, and the possession date is coming.
Moving to a foreign location is unsettling. Tasks like figuring out where to get groceries, where to do laundry, and where to catch the bus may have been exciting in our younger years, but for many seniors it is a fearful experience. Will the neighbors be helpful? Will I still see my friends? Are the phone and TV working? They are all very real concerns.
Some seniors are unable to participate in the process due to failing health as they have either been hospitalized or relocated to a care facility. They become anxious about not being able to oversee the packing of their items. Can my family do my memories justice? Are my treasures just seen as trash to them? What will happen to my mother’s lace tablecloth? Will I be able to find the picture, painted by my granddaughter, or has it been filed in the trash? The fear of not being in control haunts many.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! Emotions of relief are dominant, once time is made available to sort through belongings. Items no longer needed are let go of and the joy of displaying prized possessions, and therefore memories, is obvious. Rooms become safer for mobility as the decluttering continues. Peace of mind comes to the senior; they are still in control.
Caregivers/adult children also feel relief as things and details are taken care of and their family member is in a safe and comforting place.
Sure, navigating the emotional journey of downsizing is difficult- it’s filled with ups and downs for both the caregiver/family and the seniors. This is in fact why some families have shown increasing interest in the services of a “third party” to guide them on the path.
Shannon Lang owns Edmonton’s Elder Move Inc. and specializes in senior’s re-locations. For more information, please call 780-668-9767, e-mail Shannon@eldermove.ca or visit www.eldermove.ca.
It’s that time of year again! The holidays decorations and festive swag is all being put away. When you visit the stores, they’ve replaced the lines of Christmas wrap with storage totes, and I have to admit that their multi-coloured lids and unbreakable wheels are calling me. It’s not that I need to be downsizing or organizing every year, but I find that after the holidays I can always pack things up a little better than I did last year. Besides, having everything tidy helps free up space in my head for other things, including working with clients on downsizing and organizing in their homes.
Recently I’ve been looking up storage solutions online, and although some of the containers are large they typically don’t weigh a whole lot so I can get them delivered for a good price. Small totes, big totes, and colourful boxes with flowers or the Eiffel tower all over them beckon me and since it’s January as I write this, they are all on sale!
Here are my top 7 tips in case you are planning to do some downsizing and organizing. These tips will help if you are planning a move, or simply want to make things more comfortable right where you are, at home.
- Decide what storage containers suit you best according to what you can pick up and move safely. I love bins with wheels on the bottom, but I find that some of them are too big to get my arms around (I’m 5 foot two and it’s like there are designed for someone seven feet tall)!
2. Select totes that will stack safely up to three high (any higher than that and things can tip over), but any lower than that and they are sprawled in the storage room instead of being tucked away against a wall.
3. Work in chunks of time to avoid overwhelm and boredom. If that hall closet is really packed, you won’t look forward to spending three hours organizing and downsizing it. Set a timer so you work for just 15 to 30 minutes at a time, take a short break, and then set your timer and get back to work again.
4. Maintain control of your stuff. Be clear with family members about your decisions, and remember that if there are items you no longer want or that bring joy to you, it’s time for those things to go. There are plenty of charities who can use what you no longer need.
5. I’ve accepted the fact that our kids and family members typically don’t want our stuff…except when they want our stuff. It’s a good idea to discuss what you are getting rid of, and offer it to them if you think they might want it. Try not to be offended if they say no – our tastes change over time, and we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff nowadays and it’s not that our kids are trying to hurt our feelings; they are just working on creating their own homes and comfy spaces. And they need to think about how they are organizing and downsizing within their own homes.
6. Be kind to yourself. Getting organized and getting rid of things can be hard to do. There are decisions to make, memories and feelings that are tied to our things, and then there’s the actual physical work it takes to move furniture and boxes to get them out of your way. Take breaks. Give yourself a pat on the back and remember these things didn’t accumulate overnight. It might take a while to get them sorted out.
7. Ask for help. This can be hard to do, but there are people who specialize in just this kind of work, like we do here at Elder Move Inc. You might be surprised that you own kids may want to help with downsizing (or you might also be surprised at how much they don’t want to help). Either way, if you’d like some help, give us a call and we’ll arrange to come see you at home and talk about your project. We do more than packing and moving people; we help lots of people just like you get things organized and tidied up to make your home more comfortable.
If you’re in the Edmonton, Alberta area and would like to discuss downsizing, organizing, or relocating and moving, just give us a call.