Aging in place: The Clean-out Industry

Aging in place Parent's Stuff

“Plus, the thing about attics and basements was, everything in there had once been a treasure to someone. Otherwise there’d have been no reason to keep it.”  ~Kate Milford, Greenglass House


Aging in Place

Most of my generation (Baby Boomers) are now dealing with the material legacy of their parent’s life. My journey lasted some 7 years of de-cluttering and dispersing the possessions of several generations to family, friends, strangers, charities, and keeping a few meaningful objects myself. The process is an aspect of “informal care” (family/friends caring for loved ones) in the sense that a lifetime of personal accumulation/s need to be dealt with by those still able to do so–often children surviving the death of their parents. It’s a bit like trying to explain Tango dancing, unless you’ve done it, you can’t really understand what’s involved.

Meaningful Objects and Life-Review

For example, I found pleasure in uncovering family items from my past I haven’t seen in 50 years. Instant life-review, and suddenly you’re taken back in time and you stare at the object in your hand. Trouble is, time is always limited, usually done in crisis mode, and you have to triage; throw away? donate? sell? give to friends/family/coworkers? or keep? This is where the pain enters…This is not an easy process, nor for the faint of heart.

The Clean-Out Industry  

Terry Gross, Host of FRESH AIR heard on NPR, was recently Interviewing Adam Mintor, Author of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale. Mintor comes from three generations of Junk business owners and is an eloquent spokesperson for the profession and the process. But what caught my attention was his recounting the experience of having to deal with his mother’s stuff after her death:

There was the grieving of my mother passing, but then you’re sort of left with the material legacy of her life – you know, her property, the things that were in her small apartment, the things that we found out were stored in relatives’ basements. And it became the responsibility of my sister and I to figure out what to do with those things. And neither of us really were in a position to take anything.

He describe in detail the unraveling of a legacy of accumulation (his mother’s) and where it all eventually ends up. This has spawned an industry known as “The Clean-Out Industry” and many businesses have sprung up from coast-to-coast to meet this growing issue that is an unintended consequence of the Longevity revolution (Longevity Economy).

I suggest you have a listen if you’re going through this life experience now, or in the near future; you will find it troubling, thought provoking, and yes, even comforting.



Senior Guide to Downsizing 

Smooth Mooove: Senior Moving Services

National Association of Senior Move Managers



error: Content is protected !!