Decluttering to Downsize: Tips for Seniors
Downsizing is a great option for seniors who have a home that’s become too big to manage, especially as they enter post-retirement years and have their health to think about. It’s a big job, however, and requires quite a bit of work before the actual move. Not only do you need to go through your belongings to consider what to take with you, there’s also the question of what to do with the things you don’t need.
It’s an emotional process for many, so having support from your friends and family is important. Talk to your loved ones about how they can best help you during this busy time, and get a feel for what they might want to take off your hands as far as heirlooms, antiques, or sentimental items are concerned. Sometimes, it’s much easier to give something away when you know it’s going to a good home.
Read on for some tips on how to get started with the downsizing process, and how to make it easier on yourself along the way.
Depending on your move date, you may have a few months to prepare or only a few weeks. Make the most of your time and begin the downsizing process as early as possible. Start in one room and work your way out; this way, you won’t get overwhelmed. Make lists as you go and write down what you definitely want to take to the new house, as well as items that you’re on the fence about. Set aside any items that you definitely plan to donate.
A great way to begin paring down your closets is to face all the hangers the same way; when you wear something, hang it back up with the hook facing backward. This method allows you to easily see which items of clothing you’ve worn the most in the last several months. Those are the keepers; donate anything you know you haven’t worn in a while to a local thrift store. Seasonal items can be packed up in a waterproof tote.
Look for functionality
Downsizing means making some hard decisions. When you’re going through your belongings, look for things that will be functional and will fit in your new home. If you’re holding onto an item purely for sentimentality, consider giving it to a family member who can actually use it.
Items like photo albums are bulky and take up a lot of room; think about asking a loved one to help you scan the photos to your computer (or you can go to a local photo center and use their scanner to transfer the photos digitally to a disc or thumb drive). By doing this, you’ll still have all your pictures without giving up any space.
Moving is a lot of work, and even more so when you have to whittle down your possessions. Visit your new home, if possible, and take measurements in each room so you’ll have a good idea of what furniture will fit. Write everything down and keep all your paperwork in one folder so it stays neat and accessible.
While packing, make packing lists to tape to the outside of each box. This will help you locate items easily before and after the move and prevent any confusion.
Remember that downsizing can be an emotional process; give yourself a break now and then during packing and on moving day if it becomes too much, and ask for help from loved ones rather than shouldering the burden on your own.
Enlisting the help of others, staying organized, and being resolute when it comes to what you keep or donate can take a lot of the pressure out of downsizing. Remember, the best part is yet to come. Once you’ve pared down and organized, you can get on with enjoying your golden years in comfort and peace.