Hidden in our clutter may be valued memories and pieces of family history, the meaning of which may be unknown even to family members. In the past, generations often shared a household and many family stories. That doesn’t happen as much today. As a move manager I am often in the position of helping seniors sort through their belongings. I ask a lot of questions to help them decide what to do with an item. Grown children and grandchildren are often astonished when they learn the history or significance of items. It convinced me that as professional organizers we can help seniors create a living legacy, as much as we can help them remove clutter or downsize their household.
Stories pass from generation to generation. By identifying and understanding what items hold precious memories, connections with future generations are ensured. We need to encourage our seniors to share what is significant among their belongings with loved ones.
Perhaps these conversations aren’t happening because we have so much stuff ourselves that the thought of dealing with someone else’s clutter isn’t appealing. Or maybe it’s because discussing a legacy means acknowledging what we don’t like to think about. We won’t be around forever.
In his book “How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders,” author David Solie, M.S., P.A., explains how legacy is a key drivers for seniors. “Every day, whether our elders speak of it or not, they are reexamining events in their lives with the enhanced perspective of age. It is an all-consuming task.” Solie offers useful advice for improving communication with seniors.
Make no mistake. Going through a lifetime’s worth of belongings is no easy task. Physically, many seniors don’t have the energy to do it. But if you don’t take the time and opportunity while your parents are still living, their stories and memories may be lost forever. By keeping what they hold precious in the family, you honor their life. A professional organizer can assist with the task.
Everyone deserves a legacy. You can help give it to them.