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What Do I Do With The Stuff?- Cleaning Out Mom's Home

October 6, 2017





My mother died when I was 55 years old. Dad had passed away a few years earlier. I was tasked with inventorying her home so we could figure out what to do with all of her stuff. My husband called me 3 hours after I arrived at mom’s home to see how the inventory was coming along.



 “I have done nothing!” I cried. “I have walked in circles. I don’t know where to begin and it feels weird to go through their personal items!”








Just a few short months later my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip.  Pat would not be coming home. She would have to be moved to a facility in Houston closer to where my husband and I live. We would be her caretakers. Here we go again.



60 years of accumulation is a lot to have to sort through.


Moving from a 3-bedroom home to a small one bedroom apartment meant a lot of downsizing would need to happen.



We Had To Hurry


Time was of the essence as we would need to get her settled in her new home in about 30 days.  On top of this we lived 250 miles away. My brother-in -law lived a full day’s drive away.


And I am not alone. This situation plays out all across the US daily. The good news is a new business has been born from this need.



Senior Move Managers (SMM)


This is a fairly new business model in the greater Houston area but there are several  companies available who can help. These companies specialize in helping seniors who are downsizing and moving. They also work with families after the death of a parent. You can find a reputable company by visiting  The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). Each company has their own specialties but services may include:


Professional Organizers



A professional organizer can help take the overwhelmed feeling out of the downsizing process. They are experts at helping you to identify what items you need to let go of. Furthermore, they can help you figure out what to do with each item.




Estate Sales and Auctions


Some items need to be donated and your move manager can help. Other items may be valuable. There are several options if you want to sell things. Some move managers offer estate sales or can put you in touch with a reputable company who does this. There are also on-line estate sales and auctions to consider.


Your senior move manager can help you find someone to appraise your items and Auctions where the items can be sold.


A Move Coordinator


From start to finish your move manager can do everything for you. Even disconnecting and reconnecting utilities in the new home will be handled.





“ On top of it all I had to deal with her apartment. Luckily, she had already downsized. But she still had a lot of stuff in her 2-bedroom apartment. In order to not have to pay her rent I needed to figure out what to do with all of her stuff!”


Susan is not alone. Families may live hours away from a parent who has passed away or suddenly needs to be moved into an Assisted Living facility or a nursing home. Senior move managers can help when you cannot.


If you have dealt with one of these situations you have probably thought about downsizing yourself. After all, you don’t want your children to be stuck with your stuff when you are gone.


Here are 3 tips to get started downsizing your stuff.


  1. Begin to give items to your children and grandchildren.  Picture books filled with old pictures are a good way to begin. Look at items you have not used in a long time. That ice cream maker? Send it off with your grandson to enjoy.

  2. Pick one closet and begin there. It will not be as overwhelming as the whole house. Have a box ready for all of the items you wish to donate. As soon as you have finished take the items to be donated. Take a before and after photo to see your accomplishment.

  3. Make a new rule. If you bring something new home, you must donate something immediately. That way you will not keep accumulating more stuff.


But don’t try to do everything at once. I promise that will be overwhelming. Instead, do a little each week. Set aside a day and time each week to work on this project. Maybe every Wednesday evening for 2 hours or whatever works for you. Before you know it you will be amazed at how fast you have gotten  your stuff under control.





As Certified Long-Term Care professionals since 2003, and members of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, both Sue and Allison have the training,  knowledge, and experience to help you understand your options.   





With over 20 years of experience, both women are committed to ensuring that their client’s long-term care needs are met while their wealth is protected.


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