Boxing Up a Lifetime of Memories

July 1, 2024


If we’re lucky enough, our parents will stay around for years to come. That can also mean that you might be helping mom, dad, or both shop for senior living. While finding the perfect senior living that we can trust feels like a tricky process, the next challenge is helping them clean out their homes and downsize their belongings into their new apartment.

Downsizing can be quite an undertaking. If your loved one can help, include them or even let them lead the process if they can. While moving can seem daunting, leaving a long-term home is a major milestone that can create an emotional roller coaster.

Homes are Filled with Emotions

Looking around the house, especially one that’s been lived in for decades, can bring up a lot of feelings. Dad’s bowling ball, trophies, and hand-written scorecards are proudly displayed in his den. As you look at all of them, you can hear the bowling pins being knocked down, the laughs from his buddies, the glasses clicking, and the cheers over strikes and spares. You might even smell a cigar as you stroll down memory lane. It also reminds you of a time when he was stronger and more independent. It makes you wish you could go back in time.

Ahh, memory lane—who can pack boxes with tears streaming down their faces? Again, it’s a blessing to have our elderly loved ones with us as long as possible, but seeing them change and even decline can bring feelings out of the woodwork.

When fond memories catch up with you while boxing up a lifetime of happiness, stuff can quickly become so much more than stuff. Feelings can pull on our heartstrings and cause us to put everything into the “keep” pile.  Other dilemmas arise if you or your loved one wants to keep too much. Are you really going to rent a storage unit for the stuff that could be dispersed among families or even given to those in need? There must be a better alternative.

Make it a Family Affair

What does your loved one say about the contents of their home? Are they ready to move forward and unload the unnecessary items, or are they trying to bring everything down to the studs to their new apartment?

If they are trying to bring too many items along, it’s a good idea to remind them that the less they bring that they don’t need, the more space and energy they’ll have for new experiences and hobbies. They’re also likely to have a lot of needs covered at their new place, which means they shouldn’t need to bring everything.

Have your folks identified who should receive some of their valuable items or keepsakes, or has a family member asked for something special? Just like growing up and sharing, please remember to do that; at the end of the day, family is everything. Disagreements or strained relationships with loved ones over stuff aren’t worth it. Don’t lose someone because they insisted on keeping a brooch or granny’s gravy boat.

What Do they NEED

Needs versus wants are always tricky, even when we’re not faced with moving. When determining what your loved one needs in their new apartment, find out what’s included. From there, you’ll learn just how much from room to room is ideal.

Senior living communities tend to offer meals and activities, and most all include seasonal chores. With that in mind, you may be able to bring more basics and must-haves, which can reduce the extras.

Sound Familiar?

If you’re facing this situation for your aging loved ones now or will be in the future, preparing in advance is not a terrible idea. A great way to begin is by having a rummage sale or giving unwanted items to charity. While doing that, initiate the conversation with your aging loved ones to gauge their reaction.

There’s no one way to get through this, but a helpful way to start is by contacting friends and family who may have faced something similar and asking about their experiences. There are also many books available on the subject.

Join us for Our Book Club!

Some Edgewood locations host a book club to discuss Marni Jameson’s Downsizing the Family Home. This book provides an in-depth look into how to help family members make tough decisions about moving out of a long-term home. The club will be informative and a great way to network with others facing similar challenges.

While each family is unique and will have their way of ironing out all of the details when it comes to downsizing, the book or book club experience can be a helpful tool in starting the conversation. It can also offer some helpful validation of what you’re feeling about the process.

If you’re interested in attending a book club or learning more about our senior living services, please get in touch with us at

Related Posts

View All News

June 25, 2024

Choosing Care You Can Count On!

  Finding the perfect senior living residence can be complex. If you live in a highly populated area, there may be many choices available to fit your needs. Some people like shiny new buildings, while others prefer a quaint apartment with modest amenities where they can access healthcare quickly. Everyone has a different wish list, […]

Read More

June 12, 2024

The Right Diagnosis Means the World!

After helping seniors and their families find peace of mind through senior living services for the last 25 years, Sales and Public Relations Director Shannon Conroy at Edgewood in Minot recently had an incredibly eye-opening experience of her own with her father, Don. She hopes that sharing their story will help encourage others to strongly […]

Read More

June 3, 2024

Honoring the Longest Day 2024

  Summer sunshine brings us warmth, patio chairs, lake days, golf, picnics, and fond memories. One of the more memorable days is on the summer solstice, The Longest Day, which will be June 20th this year. It’s the day that provides the most sunlight of the entire year and also a day to raise awareness […]

Read More
3 ladies with party favors

May 15, 2024

Spring into Senior Living—For Your Health!

May is here, and while we’re all anxiously awaiting those spring flowers to pop up, it’s also National Stroke Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. What do they have in common, you might ask? According to the American Heart Association, those who have a serious mental illness are at a higher risk of suffering a […]

Read More