Becky knows that her parents should be planning to relocate to a senior living community. Their house takes a lot of physical and financial resources to maintain. She worries about the yard work, snow removal and the two flights of stairs. While her Mom and Dad agree that they should move, they are frightened by the idea of packing up 40 years of belongings and memories.
As exciting as choosing and moving to a new home can be for many, downsizing one’s home at any age can be a daunting task. Doing so as an older adult can seem like an ending to a life instead of a new beginning. It is important to give the process of packing and reducing belongings plenty of time, to embrace and celebrate the emotions and memories that surface, and to provide support to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Downsizing Tips for Seniors
Whether you are downsizing your home and moving to a senior living community or you’re helping your parents with their move, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Prepare and Organize
It is important to be well organized prior to packing. Some steps to prepare for the move include:
- Keep a notebook with inventory lists, thoughts about who to give items to and to do lists.
- Take photos of and get floor plans with measurements of your new home.
- Itemize and measure what furniture you will need.
- Make a floor plan of the new space with ideas of what will go where. Double use items are a plus.
- Research and note local charities, donation outlets, and removal services, and what type of items are collected. Charities can be specific about what they will take.
- Check with your municipality about curbside trash, bulk item limits and permits for containers if required.
- Research moving companies and schedule the move date. Keep in mind that prime moving season includes the months of May through September, so book your moving company as soon as possible.
Create a Shopping List
The next step is to create a list of items you will need to pick up before the move. This list should include:
- Packing boxes, dish boxes, closet hanger boxes
- Packing materials, tape and markers
- Large heavy-duty trash bags
- Colored stickers – colors are used to identify who should receive which item.
Make a Calendar
A calendar full of important dates will keep you on target for your moving date. Give yourself plenty of time, at least 2 to 3 months, to accomplish your goal and keep in mind an elder’s energy levels and abilities. Make a calendar with reasonable benchmarks, such as:
- One room per week. 2-3 work hours at a time.
- Dates for loved ones to come over and choose items.
- Dates of pick up and drop off of items.
Provide Physical and Emotional Support
- Welcome involvement by children, friends or other loved ones to aid in the selection process.
- Focus on the opportunity to design and decorate a new space with special treasures.
- Consider hiring a professional organizer or downsizing consultant. Professional assistance with downsizing costs range from $40-$200 per hour.
- Do not rent a storage locker. It will just delay the inevitable and add unneeded expense.
How to Start Downsizing Your Home
Relocation experts advise utilizing the OHIO rule: Only handle it once. Meaning if you pick it up you must pack it or relegate it to its pile.
- Pack one room at a time.
- Keep items that you love and bring you joy each day.
- Give away items that you know others would enjoy or can be donated (use your color stickers).
- Toss items that are broken or can be recycled.
- Engage a couple of people familiar to and liked by your elder to help with packing.
- Review the Downsizing Your Belongings Checklist.
Once you have packed up the items that you will be keeping, and your loved ones have collected what they want to take, consider holding an estate or yard sale to raise money to offset your moving expenses and more. You also may post items on eBay or Craigslist. Use these online sale platforms carefully. Many municipalities have ‘safe site’ exchange locations for the transfer of online sale items.
Green Hill Can Help You Downsize Your Home
Moving and downsizing for seniors can be emotionally, physically and financially stressful. Green Hill looks to make the transition easier for your loved one this Spring by offering 50% off the Independent and Assisted Living Move-In-Fee with a FREE Home Downsizing Assessment by Ms. Eileen Bergman. “I understand the challenge of having to make tough decisions about what to keep, donate, sell, or toss,” says Ms. Bergman. “For those in transition it can be a trying time to let go of possessions that bring back fond memories of past events and loved ones. Together we will determine how to best downsize your belongings in order to accomplish your goals.” Ms. Bergman is a NAPO Specialist in Residential Organizing and Workplace Productivity. For more information on this special offer call 973-766-9355.