Downsizing for Seniors

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Now that the kids are gone and you’ve decided it’s time to move into a smaller, more manageable home, you have to thin out your belongings. For the majority of people, this is a daunting prospect. How do you know what to keep and what to toss? Will you have enough space for everything you want? Let this post serve as an overview to the process of downsizing for a move.

One Room at a Time

Plan out exactly when you’ll tackle each room. This will keep you focused and less likely to wander from the bathroom to the bedroom to the attic, and so on. Set a time limit when sorting so that you don’t end up flipping through old yearbooks instead of working on the task at hand.

Sort, Donate, and Gift

Make keep, donate, and toss piles. No maybe piles. Make decisions about your belongings, and stick to them. The only exception here is paperwork, especially if you’re on a time crunch. Box up your papers and documents together, and sort through everything after the move.

Consider gifting certain items now instead of waiting later down the road. Your adult children and other young relatives will likely appreciate the gift of a meaningful heirloom. Write the story of the item to accompany the gift.

Plan for Your Next Home

How much square footage does your new home have? Sort your possessions accordingly, which means it may be time to lose the hutch and the sideboard, or just one of them. Keeping the size of your new home in mind will further focus your sorting efforts. Assess, too, whether you need multiples of certain items and how much you use each item. One spatula will do instead of three. How many cups will you realistically need? How about sets of sheets?

Adults Moving into Assisted Living

This is for the children of seniors who will need to move into assisted living or other care facilities. While this kind of move is always stressful and often painful, it’s best to break the process down into parts and to involve your parent strategically throughout the process. The Family Caregiver Alliance offers a comprehensive moving plan and checklist to caregivers planning a move.

And beyond possessions, caregivers should consider how they can downsize other elements. Does your parent make payments on a life insurance policy? Perhaps it’s time to discontinue those payments and sell the policy to help finance the move into assisted living.

For further information on downsizing, whether on your own or in helping a parent, check out the following resources:

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