It’s not at all uncommon for older adults to begin seeing a need to scale back their living situation – whether that’s decluttering their existing home to make it more manageable or downsizing to a smaller home altogether. Whichever is the reason, this process can be extremely beneficial for seniors. It can lower stress, home maintenance, and in many cases, utility and insurance expenses.
That’s not to say it isn’t without difficulty, though.
Letting go of personal belongings or a home often is an intensely emotional process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Rushing through it or trying to tackle too much at once can be counterproductive, making the process more difficult than is necessary. Fortunately, there are some helpful tips that can make senior downsizing significantly easier and more positive for everyone involved.
1. Identify What You Want to Achieve
Like many things in life, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re hoping to achieve. If it’s decluttering, really think through how you’d like your current home to look with fewer belongings – and what exactly you should part with to achieve that. Should you be hoping to downsize to a smaller place, take some time researching home options that align with your interests, finances and location relative to friends and family.
What often derails a person’s decluttering or downsizing efforts is rushing into the process and trying to tackle too much at once, leaving them overwhelmed and more stressed than they were before. First identifying what you’re hoping to achieve can be tremendously helpful in focusing your attention and energy.
2. Include friends and family in the process
Even with a plan, the value of including friends and family during this process cannot be overstated. Their physical and emotional support will be a tremendous help, for both you and them. Especially with family, they likely will have their own emotional attachments to your belongings and home. Conversely, not including them early on can leave them feeling hurt and saddened. Having to mend personal relationships during this process should not be something you have to add to your list of “to dos.”
3. Seek professional help when needed
Even with friends and family helping out, there are aspects of downsizing and decluttering that can be quite daunting. Fortunately, there are a number of services and professionals who can help with everything from developing a downsizing plan that addresses your chief concerns to moving your belongings. Take some time early on to objectively consider what you and your personal network can handle on your own and where professional help will be needed.
4. Sort through your possessions
This is when downsizing starts to feel real – deciding what stays and what goes. Again, give yourself as much time as you can for this stage and don’t rush it. This is a big step that easily can stir up a lot of emotions.
Some helpful tips for the sorting process include:
- Go room by room instead of trying to do everything at once
- Eliminate duplicate belongings
- Gift items that friends and family might want (but don’t force them to take anything they don’t actually want)
- Consider donating items that are too difficult to relocate
- Let go of items if you haven’t used them in over a year
5. Find the best way to part with your belongings
At this point, you might be ready to get the unwanted or unneeded items out of your house by any means necessary. But like the previous steps, this is a stage that’s worth putting some thought and time behind. In many cases, one person’s trash is another one’s treasure. You could make some extra money selling these items on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or a yard sale. For larger belongings, as mentioned above, many non-profits will come and take away donated items like furniture for free. Even canned, non-perishable food can be left behind and donated to an organization like Move for Hunger!
There’s no question that downsizing and decluttering is an emotional process. But having a plan, taking your time and focusing on the end goal can make it considerably easier for everyone involved. If you or a loved one is in the process of downsizing and looking to move, give us a call. We’ll do the heavy lifting while you settle into your new home.