I gave a presentation to a group of professional, mostly middle aged, women a couple of weeks ago. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t matter how successful you may be in your career or how many demands that already exist on your time, it still often falls to the daughter(s) in a family to ensure that Mom and/or Dad’s move goes smoothly.
There are exceptions to this of course and sons are also stepping up to the plate as more aging parents are starting to consider options. But traditionally, even in 2015, caregiving roles are usually assumed by the females in the family and managing transitions to what is often significantly smaller space is no exception.
If any of this resonates, what can you do to help to ensure that Mom and/or Dad’s move is successful?
During my presentation I wove together a number of experiences that illustrated how the world of donations, content sales, on-line auctions and cleanouts has changed over the last few years. If you haven’t moved yourself in a while you may not know which companies are reliable and who to call for quotes. You may have siblings who live in other provinces so there may even be more than one mover involved. Is that even a cost effective option today?
Of course there is also the pressing question of what to do with all the items that no one seems to want. You have accumulated more than you have room for as it is and your kids don’t seem to want any of it. It seems that “brown” furniture is not as desirable as Ikea pieces these days and who wants china that can’t go in the microwave or the dishwasher?
There are a few pieces of furniture that may have some value but if you do happen to know of any liquidators they are likely to come in and cherry pick only the best of the best. You have a friend that suggested a consignment store for some of the smaller collectables but really, what do you do with the rest? The basement and the garage are full of partially used cleaning solvents and paint and you want to dispose of that safely. Who has the time to go through everything and Mom’s initial resolve to move seems to be wavering as she begins to open cupboard doors … .
Your eldest brother just wants to call a dumpster and your younger sister wants to keep everything. No one is quite sure where she expects it to go as she lives in a pretty small space herself but everyone is giving your Mom different advice and she is beginning to worry that it is just all too much to deal with. Each of her children is positive that they are the one who is right and your Mom is worried that things might be moving too fast. Surely she can handle another year in the house and she definitely doesn’t want to be the source of conflict between her children. Your brother in Alberta is positive that the silver plate must be worth something and that maybe the family should consider a storage unit.
Meanwhile your mother is becoming increasingly anxious and is not fully trusting of any of the advice that she is receiving. She understands that all of you have concerns about the stairs and that maybe her favourite hutch is, in fact, too tall for her new condo after all. She is simply not going if the hutch doesn’t go with her!
This is where someone who is objective can ease the tensions. A knowledgeable, sensitive and objective Senior Move Manager can reassure your parent that she is making good decisions and making them for all the right reasons. She can navigate the world of reliable service providers and contractors with knowledge and experience with current market conditions. Trustworthy movers will take care of your parent(s) possessions but they will really go the extra mile for someone who gives them regular, repeat business.
My older clients also seem to find it easier to take advice from a credible and sensitive third party than they do from their adult children, particularly when these children can’t seem to agree on much of anything.
Helping your parent(s) to downsize and move involves much more than getting a few boxes and arranging a truck. Are you too close to the situation? Is it possible that you are the sibling in the family who doesn’t really want anything to change even though you know that your parents’ health and mobility challenges are making change inevitable?
Calm objectivity just may be the missing piece of the puzzle and we all know that it is easier to prevent family disputes than to try to sort them out later - something to consider when you are thinking about the best way to help.
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