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Rowling & Associates Blog

The Emotional Side to Moving to a Retirement Home

by Erika Fettner

So, you have made the decision to sell your family home and move to a retirement home. While that is always a difficult choice, many people would agree that the hardest part is yet to come – deciding what to bring with you and what to leave behind.

What do you do with a house full of treasured memories?

You must decide what you are taking with you and what needs to go. I realize this sounds like a very cold and detached way of thinking about it. After all, for many people, we’re talking about a lifetime’s worth of accumulated memories and objects!

There are all those souvenirs that you collected when you were traveling, the set of china for 12 that you received as a wedding present, the crock pot that would make your life easier if you would just use it, your book collection that you can’t part with, the holiday decorations that haven’t been put up in years. For me, it would be the 20 bins of fabric that I can’t live without. I sew and quilt; I don’t hoard fabric, unless you ask my husband.

While all the items mentioned above are nice, and surely have meaning to you, you won’t be able to take them all with you to a retirement home.

There are a few options for what to do with the items you won’t be keeping, but the easiest is to donate them. Sometimes, making the decision to donate the things you’ve had in your home for years is a tough one. You’ll likely need to consider carefully whether each object is one you want to keep just for sentimental value, or if it is something you’ll actually use in the future.

Some great candidates for donation are the items that have been sitting and gathering dust for that possible one-time use. Really look at these items and ask yourself – have I worn it/used this in the last six months? If the answer is no, it’s time to donate it.

Not only will you feel better about living in a less cluttered space, but you may also make someone else’s day because of the item you donated. If that doesn’t make you feel better, just remember – donating is tax deductible!

The transition from family home to retirement home is also a great time to get organized.

Put all your financial and legal documents in a binder. Add pages for bank and financial details, like the names of banks, account numbers, and passwords. You should also put in a copy of your will or living trust.

It’s also recommended that you have a copy of a medical power of attorney, and a copy of a financial power of attorney. While no one wants to imagine a scenario in which they are unable to make decisions for themselves, this is a very real possibility and it’s important to be prepared. Having these documents in place will make your family’s life a lot easier should anything happen to you.

It’s hard to get past the emotions that are attached to the “objects” in your life/home.

Something I once suggested to a friend who cried every time I put something in the donation box, was to take a picture of the items she was getting rid of and make a scrapbook of those memories. This is a great strategy because you can have the pictures to look at and treasure, without all the clutter that you might have if you tried to squeeze it all into your new home.

Keep in mind that as hard as it is to say goodbye to some of your possessions, this is still a very exciting time! You will be creating new memories at your new residence and the experience will be better if it isn’t cramped with stuff you couldn’t part with, but you don’t really need anyway. One of the hardest things to remember is you aren’t losing the memories, only the belongings.