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What to do with belongings and pets of someone going into care

When a loved one goes into care, what do you do with their belongings? We talk about some of the best ways to sort through their assets.

One of the many worries for the family of a loved one going into care is what to do with their belongings and pets after they move.

Many of their treasured belongings will no doubt head to the care home with them, but it’s important that you take care of the items that are left behind and sort through them in a respectful way. As well as items in the home, relatives who go into care often have to leave pets and animals behind too. If they must leave their home quickly or their health deteriorates to the point where they can no longer look after their pet, quick actions need to be taken to make sure the animals are cared for.

In this article, we talk about the best ways to organise, sort and take care of a lifetime’s worth of treasures and belongings that hold dear memories in the heart of our loved ones.

Ask First

There would be nothing worse than sorting through a house full of belongings for your family member to ask for that item or tell you how much they loved that specific cushion. Therefore, it can be a good idea to ask them if there is anything they want you to keep before you start organising.

We spoke to Fran who blogs at Back With A Bump, she had to sort through her mum’s flat when she moved into a hospice, she recommends asking them first: “Firstly it’s a good idea to find out what’s important to them and what they might ask for. I made the mistake of being quite ruthless and had to spend weeks ‘accidentally forgetting’ as didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d thrown certain things away!

“Make sure you box anything valuable or sentimental like jewellery, photos, and other keepsakes and store these somewhere safe. They will then be easy to find if your loved one wants them, or to share with other family members after they have passed away. Find out what clothing and personal belongings they need or want and again separate all this. If you have space, then keep as much as possible just in case they ask for a particular item.”

Setting aside a pile of their belongings will give you peace of mind that you know where they are, as well as being able to access them at short notice should they ask for them.

Start With The Bigger Items

It can be a good idea to start with bigger items that you know they no longer require like beds and sofas. There are many places that’ll happily take unwanted furniture, charities like The British Heart Foundation or Sue Ryder, who both offer a free furniture collection service. Local Facebook pages will have spaces where you can sell unwanted furniture and belongings and it is also worth asking friends and family if they would like any of the items.

“With furniture and other household items that aren’t required, you can use local selling sites to sell larger items or give them away. Charity shops are a good option for clothing, shoes, books and bric-a-bric but they often don’t take electrical goods. If you have a whole house, you could consider house clearance companies, but bear in mind they will charge.” Says Fran.

If your loved one has any cushions or furniture that they cherish, there are an abundance of companies like Love Keep Create who make keep-sakes out of precious fabrics. This could be a great way to make something to hand down to grandchildren or give to your family member in care as a gift.

Take Care Of The Pets

Working out what to do with a loved one’s pets can be really tricky, especially if you have no space to keep them yourself. Although it may seem cruel to separate them from their home, finding them a new place to live could give them a fresh start in a new home.

Firstly, it is worth asking around to see if any of your friends or family want to start looking after them. This way you and their owner will be able to see them when they wish, knowing they are in the best hands possible.

If the animal is of a significant age, there are a range of charities including the Elderly Animal Rehoming Scheme who rehomes elderly pets, finding them a home and family that’ll care for them as much as your relative did.

Many live-in-care options allow you to keep your animals with you. If your loved one really benefits from the companionship of their dog or cat it may be worth finding a care home that caters to this. Pet therapy is proven to have significant benefits to those over the age of 60, aiding a healthy and happy life.

Sort Through Photos Carefully

Photos are the perfect way to treasure memories that would otherwise be lost. When sorting through your relatives home, be aware of this, collect them all together and keep them to one side. Creating photo albums, choosing your favourites to put in frames or photocopying them and sending to loved ones are creative ways to make use of otherwise unwanted photos. Keep photo albums and share them with younger relatives in years to come or give them to your relative in the care home. Having an album that they can flick through that’ll help them remember all the great times they once had can spark true happiness.

Put Items Into Storage

Whether you’re unsure of what to do with belongings and furniture and don’t want to put anything straight in the bin, hiring a storage container is a great way to remove things quickly and efficiently from their home without you having to sort through them in a rush. Putting them into storage means you can go back to them at a later date and spend your time going through everything with care and patience. Most storage unit companies allow you to pay on a monthly basis and offer a variety of storage spaces in all shapes and sizes.

No matter what you end up doing with the belongings, it’ll bring you and your loved one comfort knowing that their assets and even pets are taken care of and in a safe and secure way. Take them their favourite items and fill their room with memories of their former home to bring them comfort and joy.

If you know someone who could benefit from the help of live-in care or going into a care home, get in contact with our specialists who can provide more information about the Continuing Healthcare Checklist and care home funding to suit you. Call us on 0121 227 8941.

Author: Tim Davies LLB

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