AARP Eye Center
Many articles on the internet discuss how younger generations don’t want to inherit their parents’ and grandparents’ belongings. For people entering their later years or who are caregiving for older adults, addressing what to do with possessions that won’t be passed down to heirs can be a monumental task.
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My parents were in their 60s when they died, so I hadn’t thought about whether I wanted their belongings. My husband and I had just gotten married and consolidated our individual households into a tiny starter home. Suddenly, we had to fit even more stuff into our lives. It took me two years to dig through it all.
Wherever you are in your life span or caregiving experience, it’s never too soon to take a good look around and start making decisions about what is no longer serving the household or its occupants and where it should all go in life — and in death.
A home organizing company will whittle through overstuffed closets, rarely opened boxes and kitchens full of unused cookware. The cost can be affordable and save you hours of time and backaches. The company may also assist with options to donate or sell what you’re not planning to keep. Selling some of your lesser- or never-used possessions will put money in your pocket with the added benefit of making space at home.
Scanning services can reduce papers, photographs and documents that are filling your cabinets and drawers. I inherited 100 years of family pictures and albums, which were kept in large storage bins. It’s been 11 years, and I still haven’t finished going through them. My husband scanned a box of them as a gift to me. It took him months — and then he realized there were several boxes to go. We’ll be hiring a scanning service or computer-capable person to finish the job. The plan is to give some of the original photos or documents away to family, dump the rest, and keep a small portion of the most sentimental originals. I may make a sweet photo book of kids’ artwork through the years or make another creative gift with the treasures currently stored away.
If you’re the caregiver helping with the paring down or hiring someone to do the legwork, approach all of this with the appropriate sensitivity. Many people are deeply attached to their things. They tell the story of a lifetime.