Seniors have often acquired quite a few material possessions. These can become a burden when an older individual decides to move into an assisted living community or memory care apartment. Here is some information for caregivers helping seniors sort items to keep or donate:
Start with must-have items
While many people couldn't tell you which items they are ready to donate, they likely do have a few they know they want to keep. For example, if you're helping your parents move, they may have a box of mementos that they'll insist comes along. Have your older loved one sit down and create a list of the top items he or she wants to keep. This will give you a good idea of where to start when it comes to sorting out the rest.
Then move to practical needs
You've likely already toured the assisted living community where the senior will be living. If you haven't, do so. This will offer insight into what amenities the community already provides. Some include furniture with the apartment, however, most are sparsely furnished and encourage new residents to bring along their own items. It's a good idea to make a list of what the senior will need to bring so you can easily sort through the possessions he or she already has.
Will the community have a kitchen the senior can use? Does the older person really plan on cooking with those pots and pans he or she claims must come along? You can be a voice of reason when it comes to debating which items should be donated. If the senior isn't likely to make use of something, donate it. This will save space in the moving truck and help the older person keep his or her new place uncluttered and therefore safer. Don't forget to go through the pantry and fridge too. Some senior living communities offer full-service meals, and residents don't need to bring along much food. Others feature small kitchenettes in the apartments so older people can do some cooking. Keep this in mind when noting what foods to donate, toss or bring along.
Especially if you are helping a senior who has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, going through belongings can be a stressful and time-consuming task. Don't attempt to do it all in one day. Instead, try sorting through belongings room by room over the course of several weeks or, if possible, months. Both you and your senior loved one will be less stressed this way, and you can allow the person some time to consider what material items are really important and should be kept when downsizing.
Donate any unwanted items to charity or have family and friends look through them first. This way some things like furniture or pots and pans will go to people the senior knows will take good care of them. Plus, you can start the journey of new family heirlooms!