Most Americans know that sooner or later, they will need to downsize and move to a smaller place or a senior living community. Moving out of the home where your loved one lived for many happy years isn’t easy, and downsizing makes the process even more stressful both emotionally and physically. Often, the senior and the family don’t know where to start because everything feels so overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and a positive attitude, downsizing can be a lot easier. Here are some tips to help you deal with it.
View Downsizing as a Benefit
Believe it or not, downsizing offers quite a few benefits to seniors. It’s a lifesaver when the upkeep is becoming difficult – doing all the gardening and cleaning a large house becomes very hard to manage with age. Also, climbing up the stairs to the bedroom isn’t as easy as it used to be. And don’t forget the cost of upkeeping a large house, too, not to mention that there are too many empty rooms now that the children have long moved out.
There’s no denying, downsizing is bittersweet. But surveys show many seniors say that moving into an assisted living community has improved their lives in many ways. They are more socially active, free of chores and house maintenance, and ultimately happier and healthier.
Settle on a New Place to Call Home
Before you actually start going through possessions and making lists of things to keep, you need to find the senior living community where your loved one will be moving and check out their future living space. Doing this will help you and your loved one to plan what to bring to the new home. Since assisted living apartments are smaller than an average house, plenty of furniture and other items will have to go. The trick is to keep the pieces that will look and work well in the new place, and make the new home look just like the old one. Make Lists and Sort Through Things It’s never too early to start making lists of things to keep, give to family and friends, sell, and donate. You’ll be amazed how much clutter you find in an average household. And, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you can make quite a few dollars selling the stuff you don’t need on facebook marketplace, offerup, eBay, Craigslist, and by hosting a garage sale.
Make decisions about what to keep as you go. I suggest that you take a piece of paper and have two columns – “Yes” and “No”. It’s very tempting to add a “Maybe” column too but that complicates things and brings unnecessary stress. So, keep things simple – just two columns. Only keep the things that matter and have happy memories associated with them.
When going through possessions, ask yourself these questions to make the choices easier:
- Is the item necessary?
- Does your loved one really want it?
- Are there duplicates of the item?
- Is the item used regularly?
- Are there any memories associated with the item?
- Is it of significant financial value?
- Will it fit into the smaller space?
- Would a family member or friend like to have it?
If your loved one has lots of albums with precious photos and newspaper cuttings, digitalize them so that the senior can keep them without cluttering the new apartment.
No, you don’t have to demolish any walls! An easy way to decide which items of furniture your loved one is going to keep is to eliminate them by rooms the senior won’t have in the new apartment. Nearly everything in those rooms will need to be sold or donated.
Pack a “First Day” Box
When the senior moves to their new home, it’s important to help your loved one feel comfortable from the start. A “first day” box with all the necessary toiletries, prescriptions, cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies, basic tools, etc. will help your older adult feel more at home and have everything they need for their first 24 hours in the new apartment.