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Senior couple moving boxes

Chapter 7 - Planning the move

Time to Pack  - “What about all my stuff?”
No doubt you’ve moved before. If you’ve decided to move to a retirement residence or long term care home, it feels different this time. You’ve made the choice to change up your lifestyle, and so as much as it’s the end of something, it’s also the beginning. You’re looking forward to setting up your new home. All that’s left is the packing.

Except it’s not that simple. And it’s going to take longer than you think. And that’s a good thing.
You’ve made the choice to change up your lifestyle, and so as much as it’s the end of something, it’s also the beginning.

Moving from your home isn’t easy, both physically and emotionally. Like every other part of this journey, it pays to take your time and enjoy the process without rushing. There are questions of logistics — what will you take with you, what will you give away, or sell, or pass on to family or friends? And what about your favourite chair, your books — they’re coming, too, right? Making a move means finding a way to honour the past, by keeping what matters most, or by finding ways to preserve memories — and creating a new place to live that you’re excited to move into and set up.

We like to think we’re bigger than the things that surround us, but it’s never that simple. This is your stuff, the dishes you got for your wedding, the pictures you’ve hung on your walls, the desk your own father built for you. You’ve got some questions to ask yourself, and they’re going to take time to answer. So keep it slow.

This isn’t going to be easy, we know. That’s why it’s so key to take your time. As a starting point, create a list that includes things you’re planning to keep and items you no longer want. Begin with obvious things, such as appliances or tools, that won’t come with you.

You might prefer to have someone with you as you downsize, not just to help, but also to share memories with. After all, this is your stuff we’re talking about. And we know you’ve got stories to tell. So don’t hesitate to talk it through. This should be fun, too.

Get Creative

It might be your favourite chair, but if it can’t fit into your new space, you can’t take it with you. This was the challenge faced by a client of Vicky Riley Keyes, who helps seniors make the transition from their family home, through her company, Red Coats Moving Solutions. As much as her client loved it, the chair was uncomfortable and no longer functional. The solution: take a photo of it. Because the memory itself was more valuable than the physical chair.

Another client had a platter she’d received when she got married years back. When her own granddaughter got engaged, she brought it to the party, filled it with treats and gifted it. Similarly, another client gave away her silver during a Thanksgiving dinner. Each family member got a spoon, with a note memorializing all the happy memories they’d had around the table.

This isn’t to say your kids, or grandkids, will want all your stuff. “Crystal, china, old furniture — young people have their own ideas about what they want in their home,” says Riley Keyes. Likewise, the popularity of content sales has drifted, and what you consider valuable might not actually be.

That said, there is always a need for charitable donations. The Furniture Bank in the Greater Toronto Area is one example, but there are places in virtually every town that accept furniture and household items, such as the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store, which accept everything from doors and windows to sinks and hinges.

Whatever you end up giving away, know that you’ll feel joy in seeing these items bring joy to someone else. As well, don’t be surprised if you feel elated after lightening your load. It’s time to focus on setting up your new space. Just the way you want it.