Downsizing. Relocation. Moving. These words easily create anxiety - especially for someone who is elderly and may have lived in the same home for decades. Besides the practical tasks of figuring out what you can take with you, what will fit, what you need and don't need, comes an often unspoken worry of letting go of and/or finding a new home for, things that are special to you. Your memories. Photos. Memorabilia. That vase you got as a wedding gift. That music box you were given when your first baby was born. The pencil marks on the wall from when you measured your kids growing. And so, the more difficult task than figuring out the practical 'stuff', is how to preserve those memories.
Recognizing that moving will not erase your memories that are connected to your home (or for some adult children, their parents' home) or its contents is a good first step. Once you figure out the items that are hardest to part with, set aside a few that will fit in your new place that you can take with you. For other items, that you simply cannot take with you, consider doing the following: write down the stories behind your treasures which you can then give to your loved ones with those items. Alternately, when you give special items away, use it as an opportunity to share the story behind them verbally with the person you are gifting them to. It is far nicer to share items that are important to you with others when you can see them being enjoyed and it will make you feel good knowing that things you have loved, are being enjoyed by others who will treasure them as much as you did.
Keep in mind that some items you treasure, may not hold the same meaning to your loved ones or things you don't care much about may be special to someone else because of a memory for them that's tied to it. If possible, allow the loved ones you have chosen to share your valuables with, to choose what they want keep.
While gifting things to close family or friends may make it easy for you to 'visit' them when you feel a bit nostalgic, you may want to also, consider creating a 'memory book' of photos of your special items that you can take with you and look through whenever you want. Having a child or grandchild help you do this gives them an opportunity to learn more about you and perhaps the family.
When it comes to family photos & mementos, do make every effort to preserve them. Even though everyone is not sentimental, photos denote our history and I know of many grandchildren that would be more than happy to help organize shoe boxes of photos and be the family memory keeper.