If we had a dollar for every hour we’ve spent on prepping our elder for her move, we’d probably be independently wealthy. It has taken months and we aren’t done yet. However, we have learned quite a few things that could make it easier for you when you are faced with this same difficulty.
What to Expect
Mixed Boxes: Why there was fine, paper thin china in a box of hardback books I cannot tell you. How it survived all these years in that mix, including the move to her home (she never unpacked some of her boxes) I can’t tell you, either. Treat each box like it has something breakable in it because it very well might.
Papers: Thus far (and we aren’t done) we have hauled out five filing cabinets worth of papers as well as many too many boxes of unfiled papers. All of these have to be gone through as there is personal information intermixed with stuff that could have been thrown out in the 1980s.
Be on the lookout for some very important papers. There may be birth, marriage and death certificates. There could be military records. There could be letters from (or to) long dead relatives that bring your family history alive.
Tripping Hazards: This isn’t just for people like me who tend to be a klutz in the first place. There is an oil slick about three feet by three feet in that garage. There are all kinds of things that are just far enough off the floor for an unwary foot to slip under. Never take your eyes off where your feet are going.
What to Do
Buy Bins: Cardboard boxes and plastic bags disintegrate. The bags tend to become so much dust in your hand. If you live in an area that actually sees precipitation, the boxes…and therefore the contents…could get wet. We are using plastic bins and adding labels so we know what is in each bin. It makes things easier, especially if the move is lengthy.
Sorting: The boxes of papers and the drawers in the filing cabinets have to be sorted. This is better done at home. Other things can be sorted as you go through them. We like to have at least eight bins per trip so we can put like items together. This makes deciding what can be integrated into the home or sorted and sent off to charity easier.
Junk King: There are companies that will gladly come and pick up what you don’t want, whether it’s still useable or not. The company we will be using is called Junk King, but there is likely to be something similar in your vicinity. This makes it a lot easier, especially if some of what needs to go is electronic in nature.
Recycling: As much as possible, plan on recycling the stuff you want to get rid of. We’ve filled many a recycling barrel in this project and we’re grateful that the local trash company offers them as part of the service. We’ll probably fill a lot more before we’re done.
Cleaning out a garage for an elder that is moving is a lot different from cleaning out your own because it’s overfull. It will take some planning and locating of services. This advance work makes the job a lot easier.