My father is 88 and still living independently in the house I grew up in. All the credit goes to him for trying to deal with the accumulated possessions of a life of travel and 50 years in his house. My brothers and I can provide emotional support in this process but have full and busy lives that prevent us from being much actual help. To say the task is overwhelming is probably an understatement.
But it isn't even the volume of stuff that makes decluttering this house so overwhelming, although the volume is truly significant. It's what these things represent that makes this process difficult for my father. Each little treasure he picks up has a story behind it, mostly of the many trips he took to Asia with my mother. As he looks around the house, he sees reminders of a long and happy marriage spent traveling and experiencing the world in their nearly 60 years of marriage. These things are not museum quality pieces, but he enjoyed collecting them and he enjoys being surrounded by them. It would make him so sad to think they might be discarded in a dumpster or sold at a rummage sale because we don't know where or how to "re-home" them. Besides, it would feel disrespectful to treat things he values so much with so little care. So we found some professional help!
Our family represents a fast-growing segment of the population—baby boomers helping their parents downsize when they, themselves, are looking to simplify and downsize. In response, there is an equally fast-growing industry focused on helping families like ours manage the downsizing and respectful dispersal of a lifetime of possessions.
The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) cites the statistics on their website:
- The U.S. population aged 65 and over will jump nearly 80 percent when the Baby Boom generation retires (from 2010 to 2030).
- By 2030, the elderly will account for one-fifth of the total U.S. population. Did you also know that Americans 85 and above comprise the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population?
Senior move professionals are uniquely equipped to help with the emotional and logistical aspects of downsizing late in life. Knowing that my father has a dedicated move manager to help him is worth every penny of the cost. Julie meets my father where he's at and moves at his pace, allowing him to emotionally adjust to the decluttered spaces. She treats him and his possessions with care and concern, recognizing that even the discussions about what to do with his things can be emotionally exhausting for my father.
So I give a big shout out to Managing Moves & More, based in Mt. View, CA and serving the entire Bay Area, for their excellent work helping our family with this enormous undertaking.
Are you facing the overwhelming task of downsizing? Or perhaps you are helping your parents downsize. Visit the NASMM website to learn more about how to plan, and survive, a senior move or to locate a senior move professional in your area.