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Tips to Handling Heirlooms and Sentimental Items While Downsizing

dining room

A glance outside and all of a sudden a sense of warmth may start to overcome you. You may hear birds chirping or see that the ground is starting to melt. The season of spring is quickly approaching and now is the perfect time to consider the first stages of downsizing, while it’s still too cold to enjoy the sun. The word ‘downsizing’ may feel a little overwhelming, but we at Kendal on Hudson want to assist you in the first, and arguably most important, stage.

“Considering heirlooms and sentimental items early is the perfect way to start the downsizing process,” says Pamela Klapproth, CEO at Kendal on Hudson. “This is a huge first step and a great way to feel accomplishment in the tail end of the winter season. By considering items within your home that have love intertwined into them early, your mind can relax while organizing non-memory-based pieces in your home.”

“I also find this to be the perfect way to connect with family members while discussing fond memories and retelling stories,” says Pamela. “Try and use it as an opportunity to deepen your loved one’s understanding of your family heritage by hopping on a zoom or FaceTime call. Laughs and feelings of love will be impossible to not share.”

As we move forward in life, it is important to reevaluate your home and the energy your space provides. If there are feelings of overwhelmingness because of unorganized areas of clutter, downsizing can be a perfect end-of-winter activity to better cleanse your home and mind to be ready for the joys of spring.

Let us help! Kendal on Hudson has the perfect tips for ensuring you are making the most out of your sentimental-item-focused downsizing journey.

Start Early, but Be Patient

Downsizing brings inevitable memories, and it would be unwise to try and rush over those thoughts and feelings associated with family items. Give yourself grace as you look through your home. Since you decided to start this process in shifts, this first stage can take as long as you need and there is absolutely no reason to rush. Consider using this as a time to look back on photo albums, reliving your fondest memories, telling stories to your loved ones or even consider taking notes and attaching them with each piece. By allowing yourself time to properly say goodbye to loved items, you are gaining closure and happiness knowing that the sentimental item’s journey is not over but has just begun again.

Make Distribution to Heirs a Family Moment

Interested in ensuring your loved ones know the stories and love behind your heirlooms? Make it a dinner event! Although we must still be sure to follow COVID-19 protocol, creating a Zoom call for your family to sit down together eating a family meal and discussing beloved items can allow for your children and loved ones to start their journey with your sentimental items and understand the heritage their family is receiving. Keep the ‘event’ casual and full of laughs and love. This is a perfect time to reconnect with family because of the hardships of the pandemic while also crossing a downsizing step off your end-of-winter list.

Include the Grandchildren

If your family is full of older grandchildren, be sure to include them in the heirloom discussion. Although it may not be their time to receive their sentimental item, it may be a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about the memories and history of your family, which they might have never been taught previously. Discuss your most-loved items and have children ask questions and insert comments so it feels much more like an open discussion. Keeping your family connected and reminded of the love life brings can be great assistance to battling the hardships of the current pandemic.

Be Prepared if Children May Reject Items

Try not to take this personally. Their answer may be much more of a reflection of modern times and their priorities, rather than anything to do with their love for their family. Sometimes items may not have a permanent place in a child’s home. If this happens, first consider if this would be an item that could be appreciated by a local museum. If not that, consider if the item could be donated to a local thrift shop.

Additionally, remember that the days of using fancy plates and silverware may be behind us. Displaying expensive items within glass cabinets in the kitchen just might not fit within your child’s home. But this is not something to lose your wit over. There will always be accepting families ready to appreciate what your family has collected; it is just a matter of finding those homes.

Our most important advice? Be patient, share the love and use this as an opportunity to deepen your family’s love for each other and your history. Happy pre-spring cleaning!

Together, Transforming the Experience of Aging.®

Founded on Quaker principles and guided by our values and practices, Kendal on Hudson provides a vibrant, active and social senior lifestyle on our 25-acre campus next to the historic Hudson River. As the only Lifecare community in Westchester County, we offer four levels of service for our residents: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Support and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Services.

Kendal on Hudson is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization led by a volunteer Board of Directors. Kendal on Hudson is an affiliate of The Kendal Corporation, a system of communities and services for older people based in Kennett Square, PA. We support diversity, inclusiveness, and independence and support the values and practices of Kendal by remaining focused on healthy aging. Located in Sleepy Hollow, New York, just 35 miles from New York City, we offer a vibrant lifestyle, cultural programs, continued learning and health care for life.

 For more information, please call 866-358-5802.