Everyone's family will face the time when they must sort through the belongings of senior family members or aging parents. This may be as a result of a move to assisted living, or upon the senior's passing. If the senior is still alive, the decisions are more difficult, whether the move is to a retirement community or a nursing home. In most cases, the new home is smaller, and thus, many of their possessions can't go with them.
The third core principle of sorting is understanding the meaning of “things.” There are numerous emotional issues around the sorting process. For some clients, letting go of belongings feels like one more loss on top of many others. They feel like they are losing part of themselves. When helping a senior with these decisions, you should see their possessions as more than “things.” They are part of their lives.
Seemingly insignificant items may have great sentimental value or emotional value, even if broken. Don’t refer to it as “junk.” Cherished possessions can trigger memories of a deceased spouse or child. These memories help preserve a sense of continuity of themselves and of their personal identity. Even the most mundane objects can be cherished possessions.
Many seniors find that telling stories about an object helps them part with it. Stories make them realize they can take memories with them without having to keep the object.