Get your aging parents to downsize asap if they are still in their single family home.

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The reason I am saying to ask your aging parents to downsize is to do so while everyone still has the energy to help sort, donate, and move into something more manageable.


My parents were in their mid to late 90's and still glued to their single family house. Once Mom passed a couple of months ago and Dad decided last month it was a good time to move to Independent Living, he now wants to sell the house ASAP.


Dad only took what he needed for his new apartment.... there is still a lot of furniture left in the house, kitchen cabinets with lot of cookware and glassware, not to mention the stuff in the garage, and everything in Dad's workshop in the basement [found a very old computer down there] and more stuff. I already tossed out a lot of clothes that I couldn't donate, and have bags of clothes to donate. I do plan to call an Estate Sale person to sell the items. But I need to throw the junk out first.


Whew, after work I am tired and that only give me maybe an hour each day to tackle one corner of one room. Oh my gosh, all the dust !!! Let's not forget about all the paperwork that ones elders keep. Like warranty booklets for things they no longer have. I dragged home several dozen 3-rings binders with financial info, as I now need to do the finances as Dad doesn't want to bother with it. Oh fun.


And there are things I would like to keep so now my family room at home looks like a flea market :P And there is more to cart home when I get the energy. Oh my gosh, as here I was trying to limit the things I have as I am senior myself, and would like to downsize before too long. It's hard to part with things that were part of my growing up.


So, once your Mom and Dad start to slow down, and you start to notice that they aren't keeping the house up, try to get them to sell and move into something smaller [it can still be a single family house but half the size], that way they would need to either donate, sell or toss out "stuff". I know it won't be easy. I would try to get my Mom to donate items, and to her that was one knick knack each year.... [sigh].



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LaraLu, I had to chuckle when you mentioned your Mom's shredder, and how she didn't want anyone to get her address.   My parents also acted like they were in the witness protection program, no piece of trash went out with an address.

My Mom would give me her magazines, but first she would need to take a heavy black marker to ink out her address...  like I was going to sell her address to some marketing service???

Churchmouse, ah those industrial size filing cabinets.   My parents had things misfiled in those, too.  It made for some interesting sorting.   Had a lot of paper cuts going through those file drawers.... [sigh].
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LaraLu, I haven't yet completely got over the cold sweat induced by finding the deeds to my parents' house wedged into a suspension file crammed with old travel brochures in my mother's industrial grade filing cabinet. "Holidays" next to "House," you see. A mistake anyone could make, to shove the deeds in the wrong file; especially when the drawer is crammed so full you can barely pull the files out anyway. And not a problem as long as you know that you do not ever throw anything away, ever.

This was how she explained it, anyway, as I turned to her with a thunderstruck expression on my face holding the deeds out to her. My head swam. I had to sit down and take deep breaths.

If your mother is obviously beginning to struggle with paperwork, tackle it from the other end by selecting what does need to be kept. Get a good, stout strong box or similar, and hunt down everything important to put in it. Passport, birth certificates, deeds, share certificates, insurance policies, her will, POA documents. This isn't for sentimental reasons, it's so that you know for sure that you can lay your hands on the crucial legal and financial stuff if necessary.
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Just finished re-reading this entire strand of conversation. Wow! Like CaringRN said, I feel like we have the same mothers...but then so many of your stories and solutions are like mine. FF...I offer my condolences for the loss of your father. My dad died just two years ago and to be honest, I think my mom is getting worse in a lot of ways. The "paperwork" as she calls it, is out of control. I go over and with her watching guard, determine what can be filed (she loves to file everything). I put post-its on stacks of paid bills (she refuses to throw them away.."What if I need them?"). I write: NO ACTION NEEDED. Okay to File. She tells me she will put them in her file, then months later, I find them stuck underneath another pile. One day, I actually went through a bunch of junk mail (five months of advertisements for reduced internet service ... she doesn't have a computer) all of the junk mail was TRULY junk mail. Then next day she told me how it took her hours going back through the garbage and taking all the stuff out I had tossed and she had to shred some of it (she loves her shredder...lives in fear of someone finding her address on a piece of junk mail!). Just today, she complained that she needs to get another check of drawers for her clothes. Dear God, no! I suggested that if she were to empty out the extra dresser in one of her bedrooms she would have lots of drawer space. She told me she has two drawers filled with Daddy's socks and underwear. I know keeping his stuff makes it feel like he's not gone, but that is not helping her with her depression. It's just a mess. Like so many of you, this has made me neurotic about purging my own stuff. I even told her (trying to set an example) that if I died tomorrow, I would not want my daughters to have to sift through piles of crap and that they'd be saying "What in God's name was Mom keeping this for?!!" Well that little exercise backfired! She launched into a rant about how today's young people have it too easy, don't appreciate anything and don't have the same feeling and respect for people like the way she was raised. Dear God! She is a complete captive to her house, her mess, her OCD and is resentful of me "I don't understand how you have time to babysit" or she throws it back to me that my husband and I see too many movies. I remind her that I've taken her to three movies in the last few months and that if she'd get things under control we could have more days hanging out having fun rather than being depressed and overwhelmed. Nothing works. But, like I've said in my other posts, I so appreciate reading about you all and getting support knowing that my situation is far from unique!
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Speaking of old photos.... I found pictures of my Mom when she was in her late teens and early twenties.   First time I ever saw those photos.   Her high school graduation photo showed her in a full length satin straight grown carrying a huge bouquet of flowers, the photo was professionally done.

Then I found photos of my Mom's brother when he was in his late teens and early twenties.   My gosh, he could have been a poster boy for Hollywood, a combination of Troy Donahue and Robert Redford.

And, of course, photos of people I have zero idea who they are.... [sigh].
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I kept a few on mother's things from our family home - the dark carved oak dining room set and coffee and end tables. I am glad I did, but they are so large and heavy I don't know what I will do with the when I leave this house. I know my kids don't want them.

guest - I am sure that no one in my family wants any of my jewelry and that's OK. I have already disposed of much paper work of mother's. Again, though it is about family, my kids don't want it. I have had to be very practical. Once she passes, I will offer it to extended family, and get rid of most, if not all, of the rest with few regrets.
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Golden, I've given away jewelry to nieces and nephew's new wives and cousin's daughter. It passed on things that I don't wear any more. I just have to remind self that whatever they do with it is not mine to command:)
When we went through my mother's house after she died, the saddest thing for me was how many photos and cards she kept that NO ONE had any idea about. She had lots of paperwork that she kept for years and we alternated the shred party. When my son moved out to college, my husband completely emptied his room and took possession of it. We have a futon he can sleep on, but it's been completely gutted. Only benefit is that now I have example of why his parents cannot move in with us since he was discouraging son's return from college:)) jk
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Snap, MsMadge! I did something similar with my grandmother's piano, gave it "on permanent loan" to a lovely family whose two little boys were starting lessons.

And now every newspaper and magazine I pick up has articles about "it's never too late to learn an instrument!"... "from zero to Bach in eighteen weeks - woman fulfils lifelong dream"...
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FF
Isn't it always after you've given somethings up that you wish you had them back
After mom's first set of bad falls and rehab stay, she bought herself a treat - a stickley bookcase - of course she never got around to anchoring it - earthquake country - and so here it sits empty

Last year I gave my 40+ year old guitar to a teen in my boss's church - I felt good about it at the time and the boy wrote me a note saying what good care he'd take of it - but dang if I don't miss it
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Tonight I was thinking how I wished I could have kept more of my parents furniture... to swap out some furniture I could easily have said good-bye to.

But sometimes we have no choice because things need to be donated, or trashed due to deadlines.   I would have loved to have kept my parents 1940's bedroom dresser and high-boy, it was in beautiful condition.   If only I had the time and energy to have thought everything through.   I was just so overwhelmed.

It's sad, that our parents whole life time of saving and buying furniture can now only be found in old photos.   I was lucky to bring home my childhood dresser even if the drawers are now a bear to open and close [I have rubbed soap on the sliders], and a few bookcases and benches that my Dad hand made.

If only my parents would have started to downsize back when life was pain free for them and for me.   Age had caught up with us.
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ff - jewelry will be a big challenge is for me. I have too much. Maybe start in a small way weeding out things I know I will never wear again. I do pretty well with recycling clothing several times a year. Many still fit but I am just not wearing them so they can move on, Giving old tools to a museum is a great idea,

amy - on the whole I find I don't get much for used furniture etc, but my main thing is just to get rid of it. I agree that every time something goes out of the house it is cause to celebrate.

The "next door" websites sounds like the face book pages that have popped up here since the fire. I find then very helpful. I have given and sold stuff and also got good recommendations re tradesmen, and services. What a blessing!
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