Downsizing. For many, getting rid of longtime possessions isn’t easy. However, for other seniors, beginning the downsizing process feels good knowing that they have some control over ‘who gets what’ and having peace of mind that treasured belongings are being used and valued by a new generation. If you are starting to downsize or helping a senior family member, consider these tips:
Set Realistic Expectations. Downsizing is a process. Give yourself a realistic timeline. You’re not going to downsize your home in one day. Try to limit sorting (or packing) activities to a few hours per day. Be reasonable and tackle one room at a time. And, remember to be patient. Going through a lifetime worth of “stuff” is bound to bring up memories and emotions—and it is important to take a few moments to acknowledge those feelings!
Plan ahead. Regardless if you’re moving, considering a move or aging in place, it’s never too early to downsize. Start with the obvious. Get rid of expired medication, clothes that don’t fit or other items taking up space (like duplicate utensils). Now is a good time to review financial paperwork. Shred canceled checks, and other old documents (if you’re unsure about the importance of the document, contact an accountant or tax expert). Items, such as wills, power of attorney, military records, medical records, diplomas and degrees, birth certificates and passports should be kept together in a safe place—remember to notify your children, family member, or friend where these documents are located should they need them.
Ask for help. Ask your children, family members or friends for help. Downsizing requires some tough decisions and you don’t need to do it all by yourself.
Sorting. Decisions, decisions, decisions. It’s best to create three piles: keep, sell and donate. Use colored tags to differentiate the piles and try to be decisive as you determine which pile something should be in—use the philosophy of “touch it once.” Have a yard sale for your “sell pile.” But remember items you plan to sell, regardless of how “top notch” the condition is, are not going to fetch “top dollar.” Check with organizations you are planning to donate items to for guidelines on acceptable items. Or, you could try setting left over items on the curb with a sign that says “Free.” Sometimes this will make items miraculously disappear. Also, use this time to ask family or friends if there is an item or two they wanted to have for their home.
Get an expert. If the thought of downsizing has become too overwhelming know that you certainly aren’t alone in this senior living quandary. In fact, businesses exist with the sole purpose of assisting seniors and their families with downsizing. There are enough of these companies to warrant their own organization—the National Association of Senior Move Managers. You can check out their website to find a professional in your area.
If you or a loved one is choosing a retirement community, we invite you to contact us at Arbour Square. We would be glad to provide you with information on downsizing experts and moving companies in the local area. Schedule a visit to preview our senior living community and learn what this lifestyle can offer.