As mature adults age, it becomes more challenging to care for and maintain a big house. Many realize they don’t need all that space and the stuff that goes with it and prefer to move into a smaller house, apartment, active adult living community or senior care facility.
Downsizing one’s home can be extremely demanding physically, mentally and emotionally, especially for seniors. And in the case for a mature adult it involves a lot of planning, packing and letting go of emotional ties to their home and more importantly to their stuff.
When seniors and their families begin to face the challenges of “downsizing” – aging in place or relocating into a smaller home – they often feel overwhelmed. Many don’t know where to start or what the process entails.
Making a decision to downsize is a difficult one. Moving out of an old house is not easy and the most challenging aspect is deciding on which things to keep and bring into a new home and which things to leave behind, throw away, donate or sell. Understanding that the new home will be smaller it’s unlikely all the things that have been accumulated over the years will fit into the new space.
Many seniors and their family members worry about how to de-clutter and downsize – including getting rid of furniture and other items they no longer need or have room for.
It’s important to recognize the emotional impact the downsizing process is for seniors and planning for the transition into a new home.
There are many ways to help seniors tackle downsizing and the following are some solutions to consider when moving into smaller living accommodations.
Tips To Make Senior Downsizing Less Stressful and More Successful!
Talk honestly and openly
It’s beneficial to start a conversation early about the need to reduce clutter and limit the amount of items that will not fit into the new home. Focus on the benefits of having less household maintenance, lower utility costs, little or no yard work and a simpler care free lifestyle.
Assess the space and layout of the new place
It’s essential to determine the layout of the new place so you can plan for a reduction of available space. This will help you decide what fits, what doesn’t and what things you can bring.
Pack One Room at a Time
When packing, start small. , Begin with the room that is used the least and work on a closet or drawers first. Rooms that are used least will usually have less stuff with emotional attachments. A good place to start is the attic, garage and basement. Once this room is de-cluttered or packed up, you can use it to temporarily to store items that will not be moved to the new home.
Sorting is the process of deciding what stays and what goes
Create sorting categories. Set up piles for keep, trash, to give away to family or friends and to sell or donate. Separate the things that are still used and serve a purpose from the things that are no longer needed or used at all. It’s okay to have a “maybe” or “part way gone” pile, and indecision is natural in letting go of long-held possessions, so allow some flexibility when seniors are reluctant to get rid of something. Work at a comfortable pace and take breaks along the way to allow your senior to share memories about possessions or the home itself.
Keep a list
Downsizing can be very overwhelming as there are tons of decisions to make and tasks to do. To stay organized it’s helpful to keep a list to keep on track and keeping a list of donations along the way means you won’t have to try and remember what everything was.
Many possessions seniors own have been in the family for generations. What may appear to be a pile of junk to others may have important significance to the senior. Honor their wishes in what is most valuable and avoid pressuring them to get rid of it all.
It’s common for seniors to have limited or restricted mobility, impaired hearing and a slower rate in making decisions. Allow them time to process their decisions. Withhold stating your request about what needs to be discarded and remain calm if the downsizing process takes longer than expected. Don’t allow the experience with your loved one to deteriorate over a cherished possession that can’t be replaced.
Have a family gathering
A family get-together is a great way for you senior loved one to share their memories before distributing their things among family members. This helps make family and friends understand and appreciate the item’s significance and importance. Downsizing is often the perfect time to make legacy gifts of special items to children, grandchildren, friends and others. Hearing the stories behind the bequeathed items gives it meaning to the recipients as well.
Pictures are worth a thousand words
Taking pictures is a great way to cherish an items memory when deciding to let it go. It’s often a good idea to take a photo with the senior and it helps “letting go” much easier.
Take it easy and relax
After everything is done you can now relax and assure your elderly loved one that they’ve made good decisions. One of the greatest benefits of downsizing is that it is much more than managing the details of the move. It’s about a transition to a completely new way of living a simpler lifestyle that can be less stressful and more satisfying.
I’d love to hear about your senior downsizing accomplishments?
Please submit your comments!