Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 12, 2013

What’s in the attic?: Time for a change? Part IV

Linda Hamer Kennett
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The decision has been made.

It is time to move to an assisted living apartment. Now the real work begins and the question on everyone’s mind is “What do we take, and what do we leave behind?”

Remember that book from the ‘80s, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”? In my years of assisting seniors with down-sizing, I have found this to be monumentally true. Men are practical. They want their recliner, their TV (and of course their remote); they want the pictures of their grandkids, and their favorite bathrobe. A man can be packed and ready to go in a day.

Women tend to be a little more complex. They are concerned with how they will decorate their apartment and how they should dress. The director of one assisted living facility I interviewed for my parents invited my mom and I to lunch, after which one of the ladies we dined with invited us to her apartment for cake and coffee. This let us see first-hand how the other ladies dressed and gave Mom some ideas for setting up her  new residence.

While you may have been shown a “model apartment,” ask to see the actual apartment you are moving into. Take measurements, look at the size of the closets and see how much storage there is in the kitchen. Is there a cable outlet in the bedroom? How close are you to the laundry facility? If you are on an upper floor, how far is it to the elevator?

When selecting furniture to take, remember, the term is “down-size.” In most facilities, there is a small dining cove. Instead of your dining room furniture, consider your kitchen dinette set as an option. Is your sofa too large for the living room? Maybe your love seat would work? When collectibles are a “must go” I have found that often a china cabinet will fit on a wall in the living room and puts your collectibles where they can be admired. Assisted living kitchens usually consists of a sink, refrigerator, microware and cabinets. No need to take the pots and pans. A set of dishes, glasses, a can opener, a couple of microwaveable bowls and some flatware should be all you need. You might also want to take a bulletin board to hang in the kitchen for shopping lists, doctor appointments, and a schedule of the facilities activities.

Clothing can be a major issue. I recommend to clients that you pack as though you were going on four-week trip; then do that for each season of the year. Laundry facilities are usually provided, but unlike the private laundry that was in the home, this is a shared facility. To simplify matters it is a good idea to label all clothing as you pack.

There is so much to decide at one time that you may want to rent a short term storage unit for those possessions that you aren’t certain about. This can relieve a great deal of pressure on everyone involved and will give you time to determine which items are important to have at the new home.

Things will get a little hectic, nerves will fray and patience may become a rare commodity. But in the midst of all the activity, there is one thing to remember: Walking away from the surroundings of a lifetime evokes strong memories.

Take the time to listen to Mom and Dad on moving day. Set down the box of dishes and let Mom tell you how she collected them when they were given as premiums at the gas station back when she and your Dad were first married. The old pocketknife your Dad wants to keep may not look like much to you, but did you know his Dad gave it to him 50 years ago? Don’t be so consumed by the task at hand that you fail to hear what they want to share with you. Research has shown that “sharing” can greatly ease the stress of “letting go.”

Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for senior and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or