Whether it’s to simplify their lifestyle, cut costs, be closer to grandchildren/family, or to address medical needs, inevitably, there will come a day when either you or a senior friend or family member, will have to leave their home and downsize. Related Article: Letting Go and Moving On: Selling the Family Home and Saying Goodbye
But this process isn’t an easy one. In fact, more often than not It’s a stressful and tolling process — both emotionally and physically.
Though it can feel overwhelming, these tips can make downsizing easier.
Tips to make downsizing as a senior easier
1. Get a Head Start.
The process of downsizing is not a small one, and it will most likely take longer than expected. Don’t rush it! Take the time to sort through your entire house at a pace that makes sense for your lifestyle. Pro tip: don’t try to cram it all into one day or weekend! Plan for a couple of weeks to a month as a realistic timeline, tackling one room at a time, making sure to take breaks throughout.
2. Start small.
Though you may have some belongings ready to be donated (or trashed) in the basement or the garage, start with smaller areas first.
Garages, attics, and basements can be some of the hardest rooms to tackle. Not only do they tend to accumulate all the old hobbies, boxes, holiday decorations, and clutter, they’re also rather uncomfortable depending on the season.
Instead, start in an area with little emotional attachment such as the laundry room or the linen closet.
3. Downsize your belongings
If you’re moving to an apartment or assisted living, you might not have a garage or basement. In that case, most of what is currently in those spaces will need to be sold, donated, trashed, or relocated to other rooms.
Try picking out the stuff you definitely want to keep and packing it up first. What’s left can be evaluated for whether it gets shared, donated, or trashed.
4. Get rid of duplicates.
Think of your current kitchen. If you’re like most people, you have two or three spatulas, many pots and pans, four different sized cookie sheets, and a ton of Tupperware. When downsizing, you won’t need as many items and now is the time to reduce the clutter.
5. Don’t keep “Maybes”
Going through years of belongings has a way of tugging at your heartstrings. You might get sentimental and, while sorting items into your “yes” and “no” piles, may be tempted to sort things into a third pile of “maybes.” Don’t do it! A “Maybe” pile tends to accumulate more items and ends up being larger than your “yes” and “no” piles… by that point you’ll have made very little progress in sorting. Instead, you’ll have made progress with shifting contents from pile to pile.
Use this rule when you sort: if you use the item regularly, keep it. If it’s been sitting in a closet or on a shelf for a year or more, throw it out or donate it.
6. Don’t be afraid to sell things
Craigslist, Ebay, Poshmark, yard sales. Selling personal items has never been easier. You won’t make a fortune off your items, so keep the prices low with the goal to get them out of your home.
If you can’t bring yourself to sell your belongings, hiring a firm to run an estate sale might be your best bet.
7. Consider legacy gifts early.
If there are certain heirlooms or belongings, you plan to leave to your family in your will, consider giving those gifts now.
Not only will you get the items out of our way, you’ll also be able to relish the feeling of giving those items to your loved ones.
While you’re giving, find out if there are any items your family members want that you don’t know about — this is an easy way to lighten your load even more.
8. Allow time to reminisce.
There will be days when you want to take a break and take some time to look through sentimental items (think kindergarten drawings, soccer trophies, and once-beloved stuffed animals). And that’s ok. Take the time to pause and let the nostalgia take over — just don’t let it prevent you from getting the job done. Related Article: A Lifetime of Memories: Tips For Cleaning Out a Home After the Death of a Loved One
Making the move after you pack
Now that you’ve downsized your belongings, how will you make your move?
Will you be asking family members to help pack and drive a moving truck? Will you pay for a full-service moving company to pack, ship, and unpack your things? There is more than one way to move, but for seniors, there’s often even more options. For example, senior move managers cater specifically to seniors moving. These companies usually do as much or as little as you want, from packing and moving to home cleaning and estate sales.
These move managers are trained to help seniors at every step of the way in their move, from selecting the new residence to downsizing, to transportation back and forth, etc. Most Realtors know of such professionals, as do estate attorneys and financial advisers. As senior living specialists in the Boston area, we have a wide network of these professionals and love to guide our clients to the ones that would fit their needs most!
If you’re undecided about what type of move is best for you, let us help you with everything from selling your home to finding your new place to helping you move.
Dealing with the emotional toll of downsizing
Change is hard, but the older we get, and the more accustomed we are to our surroundings and our ‘stuff’ we are, the more difficult it becomes.
Many of these negative feelings come from both sadness and fear. This is perfectly normal and is no cause for alarm.
To help alleviate some of the apprehension, focus on the positives and think of how much simpler life will be with fewer rooms to clean and fewer stairs to climb!
Senior Living Service Group is here to help make your transition easier.
About Senior Living Service Group
Senior Living Service Group is a team of Eastern, MA elder care experts who have witnessed time and time again the painful process of referring a client and or their family to multiple professionals in order to access the resources needed to manage a move or sale of a home they love.
Given the sometimes delicate nature of what we do, compassion is at the heart of everything we do. We understand the roller coaster of emotions that a family is likely to experience, as well as the urgency with which, at times, you must act.
Our highly skilled and experienced team blends the art of caring with the science of their expertise in their individual fields.
Some of the services we provide include:
- Real Estate Buying and Selling
- Clean-Outs/ Professional Organizing
- Packing and Moving
- Antique Appraisals
- Estate Sales
- Family Mediation
- Legal Services
- Financial Services