Home > Healthcare, Financial & Retirement Options > Sorting Out Family “Stuff” Before Moving Into An Assisted Living Home

Sorting Out Family “Stuff” Before Moving Into An Assisted Living Home

In a recent conversation with a friend to catch up on what she had been doing lately, I was reminded of a familiar scenario that many people with retired elderly parents seem to go through. My friend related that she had spent the weekend out of town at her parent’s home helping them sort through some of their possessions. When I asked my friend if her elderly parents were planning to move, she said, “No, they just needed help organizing and disposing of some unnecessary items that had accumulated over the years.”

Many times, whether consciously or otherwise, many elderly people feel the need to begin “sifting” through all kinds of the unnecessary household paraphernalia that tend to amass over the course of a lifetime. David Ekerdt, the director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas, decided to research the subject of “stuff,” with the help of funding from the National Institute on Aging and the assistance of colleagues at Wayne State University. Social workers, geriatricians and retirement community administrators seem to believe that the sheer volume of objects in a typical household, the enormous physical and cognitive effort involved in sorting out what’s essential, and the psychological toll of parting with what’s disposable, can lead to a kind of paralysis that keeps seniors in place, even when the “place” isn’t the best place.

Moving by *Static-Ending on deviantART

The premise is that possessions are an obstacle to people living where they can better manage their health and well being,” Dr. Ekerdt said. Maybe such undertakings are a subliminal effort by an elderly person to prune the belongings of their domain before the time comes when they can no longer physically lift, move and discard things themselves. They may also be preparing for the time Dr. Ekerdt described and they want to be in charge of the process. Moving into an independent or assisted living home is often times more of a relief for seniors than something to dread. When they make the decision to move from an apartment or sell their long time family home, having previously pared down all the paraphernalia they have collected, they often feel the relief of having a more simplified lifestyle.

Overcoming the obstacle and chore of paring down “stuff,” as Dr. Ekerdt describes it, is often a first step in moving on. According to an article published in the New York Times Blog on Aging, Dr. Ekerdt’s research, revealed that families frequently become part of the process helping their parents downsize, and they usually, “fall into two categories. They assist, or they assert.” The article states that, “acting as an assistant requires that the person in charge have the cognitive ability to make decisions without becoming confused or overwhelmed, even when someone else is supplying the muscle.” In such cases, this role “turns into the more paternalistic, assertive approach.”

“Family members take a stronger role and begin to preempt the elder’s own decisions, I think out of concern for the elder’s health and safety,” Dr. Ekerdt says in the article. It comes into play when a parent seems unwilling to throw anything away, or even to confront the need to. Or, when dementia has robbed him or her of the ability to make rational decisions. Dr. Ekerdt has seen adult children discarding “stuff” behind a parent’s back, figuring it won’t be needed. He’s also seen seniors retrieve things from the garbage afterward. “There can be exasperation and hurt feelings,” he said. “It can create sour memories.” But, in certain situations, it may be necessary. Other times however, the elderly parents are so eager to clear the hurdle and move onto a more carefree assisted living home, that the children become the ones who end up “rescuing” discarded items that hold family or childhood memories that are dear to them.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Los Angeles and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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