Sunday, November 14, 2010

Moving Day

Well, not exactly moving day, but more like moving week. My blogging silence is due, in part, to my having been away from home helping my aunt move from her two-story house to an apartment on the ground floor.

For almost a week, my cousin and I have pitched in, moved boxes, gone shopping, built furniture, bought groceries, cooked meals, sorted clothing, set up computers and televisions, plugged in telephones--all in order to help my aunt in her transition to a new stage of life.

So that gets me to thinking. And, here it comes, it also gets me to offering advice.
Some thoughts on life's passages.

1. Think about where you want to be when you can no longer be where you are. The key is to plan. Of course, you can't anticipate everything, but you can at least plan. When my aunt broke her hip, which resulted in hip replacement, she could no longer live in a house where the ONLY bathroom is on the second level.

2. Take note of the things you value--the possessions that you want to take with you to the next stage of life, and even those you want to bestow on family and friends. Someone else looking through things won't know the value, sentimental or otherwise, of a particular item. THEN WRITE IT DOWN--for example, you may not get to tell someone that the strange painting of a child was a portrait your mother painted of you as a child.

3. Declutter. Just that. I recently heard an interesting guide for knowing when to get rid of something--if you haven't touched it for 2 years, get rid of it. That doesn't mean you have to throw it away: donate to Goodwill, or Freecycle it, or even sell it on Craig's List, but get rid of it.

4. Accept the next stage of life as part of the journey. Of course it is wrenching to leave the spot you are now in--geographically, psychologically, emotionally. Transitions are hard. Be prepared for stages of grief. But eventually, accept that the next stage will have joys.

Sorry to sound so...ponderous. But, I have been doing much thinking. I hope I learn my own lessons. Maybe you have some additional thoughts on how to make life's transitions go more smoothly.

Top photo--early morning over the Hudson River
Last photo--moon rise near my aunt's apartment


AC said...

It's not too early to start thinking upon these things. While, we're in no position to start shrifting just now, I would like to rid ourselves of at least some superfluous stuff while it's still relatively easy.

Jayne said...

Not only do I already think of these things Donna, but I know way before the time comes, husband and I will need to make that transition ourselves since Sam will not be able to assist us at all. It is daunting to think about and yet, as you have seen with your aunt, so necessary. Thanks again for the reminder. I hope she gets settled into her new cozy place.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I ached a bit reading this post. As my parents aged, every step was so painful for them. It was terrible hard for them to make changes, as every change felt like they were givng something up. You've shared such good advice here.

Ruth said...

Every day I see people in the hospital who have not planned for the next stage of life. Yet it is easy to procrastinate in dealing with things you should attend to while you are in control. Good post, very nice pictures!

Climenheise said...

Aunt Leoda looks remarkably like her mother. I looked at the last picture and had trouble telling them apart! I'm glad you (plural) were there to help her move into this stage of her life.

Molly said...

I just made this decision this past year. I know that we need to declutter now - while we have the energy. We try to take work a little bit on the attic and basement each week. Hopefully by the time we need to move we will be considerably lighter.

KGMom said...

AC--you & Cuppa must have decluttered some as you moved a few years ago. Moving will do it!

Jayne--you do have an extra need to take these steps.

Lynne--you've been there. Yes, we do learn this lesson when our parents go through it.

Ruth--I imagine anyone who works with seniors will have special insight into what needs to be done.

Daryl--I had the exact same thought after I took the one photo. I said out loud--you have become your mother!

Molly--right on. Do it while you have the energy!

NCmountainwoman said...

Actually we have already done many of these things. We included features such as walk-in shower, a space for a future elevator and other adaptations that will allow us maximum years here. That said, we are already looking at all-inclusive retirement communities so that we will have an idea of what we might want when we require an assisted living arrangement.

The only additional thought I have to your preparation list is to purchase long-term care insurance at a relatively young age. It might not be the effects of aging that make you disabled.

possumlady said...

Yes, something we must all think about. I remember how hard it was to get my mother (then aged 83)to move from her home she shared with my dad (who died at the early age of 63) into an assisted living apartment. But after she moved, she LOVED it and made so many friends.

My sister recently was lamenting about her in-laws in trying to get them to move into an assisted living apartment. I told her I don't understand people. After living in my old falling apart house for 12 years, being single with no help, I'm counting down the days until I turn 55 so I can move into a retirement community so someone else can start taking care of me(joking...somewhat).

Being a proud believer of the "simple living" community, I take great pains in not having a lot of "stuff" Although living in an 860 sq ft house, makes not accumulating things a necessity, if only to make certain I will not one day show up on the reality program "Hoarders"

dguzman said...

I've long subscribed to the philosophy of "paring it down," whether it's the number of keys on my keyring or the items I choose to keep and move with me. We cling to so much that we don't need!

Nance said...

I am on it, dear!! This process is our goal for this year, as we downsize ourselves.

Your ponderings are perfectly pitched and exquisitely timed.

Ginnie said...

This is a current concern of mine. I have 4 older sisters (79 and up) and they are all in Nursing Homes with varying degrees of acceptance.
I have been doing a lot of planning and especially de-cluttering ! Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

Excellent suggestions! Everyone wants to live independently, but sometimes one becomes a lot more independent by downsizing.

One of the most stressful years I ever had was when a relative with dementia refused to move to Assisted Living. It was terrifying and exhausting for those of us who loved him and tried to help.

I'm so glad your aunt made a good decision. I hope she thrives in her new apartment!

jeanmac said...

Great post - I, too, will probably be making the big move and have to get rid of 45 years of "us" - enormous job. Thanks for the hints.

Beverly said...

This post was meant for me. I'm in my big old house by myself, saying I don't want to sell it because I don't want to give it away. It is really time for me to declutter and downsize. Both my children are in Virginia now, and I know at some point I will probably end up there too.

Right now it's too easy to lie down till the feeling passes over.

Mauigirl said...

Excellent advice. I had to help my mom and then my aunt move from their respective homes into senior apartment housing so I know just what you're going through with your aunt. My mom took it well when she moved and was mentally prepared for the transition and seemed to enjoy her years in the apartment. My aunt knew it was time to get out of her house, but she has never been able to be particularly happy in her new circumstances. Two very different people with different attitudes toward life. My mom always made the best of things. I have to say going through these transitions with them does make me think about how to deal with our own future. I definitely need to declutter - NOW.