Downsizing is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome for older adults considering moving into a senior living community. Selling a home and relocating somewhere better suited to your current lifestyle or healthcare needs can be a daunting and stressful process, both for seniors and the adult children or relatives who may be helping.
Sorting through a lifetime of possessions, including furniture, clothing, memorabilia, collectibles and more, takes time and can be a very emotional process as well. Even when the move is eagerly anticipated, the actual process of moving can be challenging.
To make it easier for you or your loved one, here are seven tips garnered from our many years of helping our residents make this transition:
1. START EARLY AND START SMALL!
If you know that you’ll be making a move in the next few months or years, or if you are helping a loved one with this transition, the sooner you start preparing, the better!
Downsizing is required for most seniors who are moving from a home with two or more bedrooms into a senior living community. These communities typically have many beautiful “common areas” for you to enjoy
There will most likely be less square footage in your future home compared to your residential home that you may have lived in for decades. For this reason, it’s important to begin cataloging which pieces of furniture, collectibles, art, photographs, etc., you want to bring to your new home.
A good rule of thumb: If something has been sitting in the basement, attic, buried in closets or in a storage unit for years, and you haven’t even missed it, it probably does not need to be moved into your new home! This is a chance to start again.
Begin to assess your possessions and determine which items truly enhance your life and/or bring you joy.
2. MAKE A PLAN AND TACKLE IT STEP-BY-STEP
Lists can be life-savers! Assess the rooms and storage spaces you currently have.
For example, you may need to evaluate what you have in your: living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom(s), bedroom(s), office, porch, attic, basement, foyer, great room, garage, and storage unit. Block off time in your calendar to do an inventory of each space. You might want to start with two-hour blocks of time a few days a week, or a half-day on weekends. It’s important to not let the process become too overwhelming all at once.
Don’t start with the attic space overflowing with boxes of decades-old items containing
3. TRY THE “OHIO” PLAN: ONLY HANDLE IT ONCE
Many moving planners suggest using this acronym as a rule: “Only Handle It Once!” Rather than moving something from room-to-room and box-to-box, fretting over whether to keep it or not, try handling it only once. When you handle an object, decide whether to put it in a pile labeled “Keep,” “Donate,” “Recycle,” “Trash,” etc.
SeniorLiving.org suggests asking the following questions if you’re not sure how to categorize something: “When seniors or their families are trying to determine which ‘pile’ an item should go into, ask the following questions until an answer guides your hand:”
- Is it necessary?
- Do you really want it?
- Are there multiples of this item?
- Is it used regularly?
- Is there sentimental value attached?
- Will it fit into the smaller space?
- Would a family member or friend appreciate or use it?
4. CONSIDER GIVING “LEGACY GIFTS” EARLIER
If you have always thought, “Someday I’ll give this jewelry to my granddaughter,” or, “I bet my niece would love to have this china cabinet, which is her favorite,” consider gifting these items now, rather than waiting. It’s a beautiful chance to bring beauty and joy into someone else’s life, while simultaneously making your moving process easier.
5. USE THIS AS A CHANCE TO BOND
Find the positive in this process by using it as an opportunity to bond with family members! It could be fun to go through old photo albums together, look through boxes of memorabilia, and take a sentimental stroll down memory lane. You may find that an adult child or grandchild will gratefully take care of family memorabilia that you may no longer have room to store easily.
This is a great chance to share quality time and family stories!
6. FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO GET RID OF WHAT YOU ARE NOT KEEPING
Remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself!
There are many estate sale companies available to help you sell the items you are not keeping. You can also call a wide variety of companies, which for a small fee, will haul away whatever you are leaving behind.
Of course, many charities can benefit from donated furniture,
7. FEELING OVERWHELMED? CONTACT A SENIOR MOVE MANAGER
Since downsizing is such a common phenomenon for seniors selling their homes, there is now a whole industry dedicated to helping seniors pack and move! If you have started to downsize and feel stuck, contact a professional today to see how they can help.
If you feel ready to make a move
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