Mom needed to move from her house to an Assisted Living apartment. She knew it. We knew it. Everyone knew it. We, her kids and grandkids, were prepared to do the work, but that didn’t matter. Mom still felt responsible to make the decisions, supervise the packing, arrange for movers, deal with the utilities, and stay on top of all the details. It was overwhelming. Every time she broached the subject, we began to psyche ourselves up, only to have her back off again. We were ready to scream! But then we got an idea.
Lets do it backwards.
First Mom settled on the Assisted Living center of her choice. We visited the place a few times, made the decision, did all the paperwork, got the required medical, set up direct withdrawal – all that was a big job, but doable on its own.
A move-in date was arranged. Next decision? What to take? Over a few days we helped Mom put stickies on all the furniture, pictures, linens etc. she wanted to take with her, while everything was still in its usual place. We didn’t agree with all her choices, but we let her stay in control. Things could be changed out later.
My brother drove down for packing and moving. Not much was going, so this piece wasn’t hard at all. We rented a truck and the deed was accomplished in one trip.
I’ve read that it takes a senior about four months to adjust to a new living situation. That was certainly true in Mom’s case. She needed time to change her mind, as well. Knowing the house was still there, still livable, helped her not feel this was an irreversible decision.
Gradually Mom began to feel safe and secure. She liked being able to go to the dining hall and have hot, cooked food served. She liked having people to chat with. House-keeping and occasional home care help took the pressure off. She was actually beginning to like this!
Mom needed the freedom to change her mind. She did want the end table she’d left at the house. Where was that lovely picture from the hallway? Why isn’t it here? No, I don’t need this quilt, or that lamp. They can go. With each visit we moved a few things back and forth which was pretty easy. During this period we were all catching our breath, getting ready for the next step.
The grandkids lived out of town, so we took photos of all the items we thought family members might want and posted them online with the agreement, “First claimed, first served”. The grandkids each picked something they liked. Grandma was thrilled!
Now to reduce the rest of the clutter. Instead of the usual garage sale, we chose to have an open estate sale. My brother drove down again for this event. Nothing was priced. Nothing was packed. We let people wander through the house, take what they wanted, and pay us what they felt was reasonable. They were amazingly fair, and it was really low-key.
Anything left over was divided between Goodwill and The Dump. We hired a guy with a truck and paid him out of the estate sale proceeds. Again, very low-key.
Finally we put the house on the market.
We were thankful that we could afford to pay Mom’s rent at her Assisted Living apartment before selling the house. We kept good records of who paid what, and when the sale was completed, we reimbursed ourselves for our expenses.
Moving for a senior is huge. Moving a senior is just as huge. Going at it this way helped all of us stay sane!
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