Suzanne Newman joins Kelley Smith at CarePartners Senior Living to provide a plan for starting the decluttering process for a transition to senior living.
Kelley talks about how the conversation often goes, when Mom first sees a potential model unit. You know she’ll need a couch, bed, table and chairs, nightstand — no brainers. But she sees no room for the things that matter to her. If her little crystal animals are that important to her, find a way to bring them. It’s not whether she uses it or not, it’s something that connects her to something she loves. The move itself is traumatic enough, so be kind and listen to what she wants. Honor her for who she is; it’s important to her.
Have those conversations with the community. The more people share, the more the community can help.
View Episode Transcript
*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
The following podcast is provided by care partners living and answers for elders radio, and welcome back everyone who answers for Alder’s Radio Network. And we’re talking about decluttering, downsizing. How do you get the plan moving? And we talked a lot just about the planning section of you know, where are we at? And I we are here with our wonderful Kelly Smith from care partner senior living, who works with families each and every day on there, you know, on their transition into senior living. And you know, probably one I bet you get a common question Kelly all the time is I have certain things that mean a lot to me. Tell us a little bit about how that conversation goes. Well, everybody knows. And mom’s how she’s going to need the couch, you need a table and cheers it. She’s going to need a bed, a nightstance. You know, there’s things from the house. She’s going to be no brainers. Yeah, and then’s going to be that family. What you’re seeing, the talking to him of the mother’s looking at the apartment, going, but I’m not going to have room for my collection, you know, I’m not going to hear what about this things that matter to them. You know, when you sit in your own living room, one of the things that you look at that bring you joy? It was, like you said, it’s the same thing for our seniors. You know what is it she loves right now? If you go over to grandma’s house, if she’s sitting there with her her favorite chair, with her night stand next to it, or however she’s got it set up with all of her little things on it that make her happy, why isn’t that coming to the new apartment? If her crystal, little crystal animals are that important to her, find a way to bring them. We’ve have we like I said, we had a lady one time and one of our communities in our s that there was no way she was leaving behind the China she received at her wedding sixty years price, and so we made sure there was. We talked to the kids and show them, you know, what kind of room we had to make this work. The kids were a little bit frustrated because they’re like just use it, Jim, use it as bad as I am use it. So what’s the point? You’re missing the point, though, whether she uses it or not, it’s something that connects her to someone she loves. Yeah, you got to figure those things out. Don’t ever ever make your loved one feel like a child because there’s something they want to bring to their new home. You’d be the same way, right, right, you know. And here’s the beauty is that with my father, he was a amazing piano player and he had a grand piano. Well, we couldn’t bring the grand piano, but we got an amazing keyboard and it worked great and he and here’s the other beauty of it, they asked him once a month to come down and play in the lobby for just for a happy hour, for their happy hour, and so he got the joy of being able to do what he does so well down on the lot of any of course he did it a lot more because everybody loved it. But that’s the beauty of how to you know how to plan things and how to he things that are most important to you is you know it’s in it’s a time to get creative, it’s a different to really find instead of saying you can’t take that, let’s find a way that we meet that need. And I think that’s one of the things that somebody like you, Kelly, that’s what you guys do so well. Well, we want because, again, we want the residents. So that you got to remember, always keep in mind when you’re dealing with a loved ones that’s making this kind of of the move it selfish traumatic. The move itself is hard. Yeah, I’m eating up my home, I’m giving up where ever lived for the last how many years. I’m giving up the place I made memories. So the one thing I always tell families is be kind when you’re sitting down with mom and you wants to bring something you think is absolutely ridiculous. Not being the parents, start being the child and listen. Yes, okay, there’s some things that might sound silly to you, but why would you want your loved one to move into a new place where they’re giving up so much already, to have to give up one more thing that matters to them as a matter of that matters to you? You’re not the one of it, that’s true. That is making sure that you’re also honoring these people for who they are and what they’ve been through. They want to bring their World War Two memorabilia. They want to bring their DADS. They still have their dad’s shoot from a hundred years ago. It doesn’t matter. It’s important to them correct and most of the system living communities will make accommodations. Most of them really do want that residents to be happy and they will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. Yes, and I think that when when you’re looking at different ways in which you can do it, have those conversations with the community that you’re that you’re moving into and saying, you know, this is really important. My Dad loves to do have a wood shop. You know, it is garage. How can we figure something out? But he can get that need, need meant met. Maybe there’s an area in where the maintenance shed is or area that he can set up a little bit of a shop or something like that, or do some repairs and give him purpose. These are some things that you guys want to hear about and I’m sure that would be a big deal. Correct, you bet, just like with your father being able to come down and play the piano. If we have a resident move in and the kids just bring basic stuff we and they won’t tell us anything about his house, we try to draw a lot of that out, but what if they never say anything and we’ve missed an opportunity for not only for all the other residents to enjoy the beautiful music, but we didn’t let him play. Yes, that’s it. More frehens can share, the better we do. It our jobs to make your loved one happy. There’s a lot and given the fact that he was well known in the community and that he would play it at happy hour once a month, the beauty of it was was that he felt free to go down to play all the time. So he would play probably a couple three times a week, just spontaneously, even if it was for an hour. You know, sit down and and he you know, my father used to play in big bands, so they loved it. You know, they would sit there and and people would sing START USS or they’d sing state Loui Blues or all the different you know show tunes. That that happened and and it was just so to see that, to he see him and joy. They don’t to get it. He gave to the community and he really made his mark. Right. That’s the point that I think what we everybody’s here for a purpose, in a reason, and just as much as things are maybe important to you, as you’re helping your parents, the you’re a different individual than they are. They have their own areas of things that they’re passionate about. Pay attention to what those things are. My Mom, it was so so if I was eighteen years old right now, one of the things would mean a lot to me, believe it or not. I just don’t want to keep my vinyl absolutely records. So what about those things that your mom won’t be able to use? A record players she’s got early on Sulementia. Really? Yeah, you want, you want, you want to be the one to decide that. You know. It’s like, why don’t we see what she’s still able to do that brings from joy and brings her happiness? How about that? Yeah, you know, and find things that again and also acclimate them to the community faster. Yeah, fun to make a new friend and bring them into your apartment to show them all the people things you’ve collected over the years and fight out they do more actually print right. Yes, and here it’s the other thing. My mom wasn’t my thing, but my mother had about probably fifty dolls, the collected dolls, including an original Shirley temple doll that was surprised possession, and she wanted to bring her dolls I’m going like fifty dolls. Well, I talked to the maintenance man at the community and at the very top of the ceiling we made a shelve all around round the perimeter of the of her apartment and we put all the dolls like up by in the corner of the ceiling. You know, I think they’re very top so it wasn’t interfering with her mobility. But here’s the beauty of that is she could look at her dolls all day long when, you know, if she was in her place, and that made her happy. And the thing that was amazing too, is that the even that the maintenance staff, when they come into clean, they use their feather duster to make sure that that area was completely dusted off. They and and one month they even brought dolls down to the lobby, down to the area and they shared them with the entire community, you know, in this cabinet, which was really, really special. She loved that. So there’s different ways in which, again, work with the senior living community that you’re moving into to figure out, you know, what is, what has a strong sentimental or emotional value to your loved one. Find out what those things are and then find a way talk to the SP aath that you’re working with to say what is it that we can bring? How can we meet that need? And I think that’s one of the things that you guys do so well. I mean, what do you think? Now, look what most communities will give you a list. Yeah, any moving like, for example, our memory communities all come with a memory care checklist. The other things you need the brain okay, things that need to happen for you move in Etcter, that type of stuff. Since a living communities are a little bit different, but there’s some basics. Then kind of it gets spoken about not want you to furnish your own apartment, and the reason for that? Well, first of all, nobody wants to live in a place as other people’s been sleeping on that couch for the last two years and now it’s your apartment. Nobody wants that now. So what you want are your own things. Yeah, but if both of again, if there’s something out of the ordinary besides the basic stuff and again declarating their room, not assistant living community is going to tell you don’t she can’t bring your dolls. Nobody’s going to tell you what you can again have in or the room. It’s just a matter of the family’s being able to organize that. So that’s thoughts collected, because you also have to remember what if your loved ones of fall risk? You don’t want a room so cluttered with stuff that we’re worrying about them falling down and preck on their head. We don’t want that. Now you know you got to be smart about the environment as well. But, like you said, put some dolls up in the corner. There’s number of different things you can do with shelving, a lot of cool things. Mob can bring her thanks. Oh, dad wants to bring his electric guitar. Well, he’s just going to irritate the neighbors. Don’t assume that. Yeah, that’s it. They I love it. Come downstairs and plight. Don’t always assume that your loved one’s going to be trouble or things that they want are going to be a problem. Don’t go negative immediately. Yeah, there areas inna and a senior living community where you can do things like that. There’s a media room, there’s there’s usually a multipurpose room that’s got a pool table or something like that in it. So you’ll be able to do things like that you’ll be able to bring your guitar, you’ll be able to do things like that. So you know, in this next segment as we wrap up, what do you do with the stuff that you’re getting rid of? How do you know? There’s three steps under that process. And Kelly, any last words on that before we start the segment? No, I think we’ve covered it pretty well. I think again, it’s about you know. No, I think we’ve covered it pretty pretty well about you know. Again, don’t he make consumptions. Talk to the staff, because you might find out they’re a lot more commentating about something that needs so much to your love. That absolutely running for absolutely and I’m very excited again. Let’s talk about that in our next segment. How do we get rid of stuff? What? Well, what do we do? What’s the steps to do? So, Kelly and I we are going to be right back right after this. The preceding podcast was provided by care partners living and answers for elders radio. 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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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