Downsizing can be a source of dread for older people who don’t want to face making difficult decisions about their belongings. However, when approached with care and organization, downsizing can be a liberating experience for older adults who need a smaller, more manageable living space and desire a life with fewer burdens and more free time.
Don’t Put Off Decluttering
Decluttering is generally the first step in downsizing, and it’s an important one since the idea is to move to a smaller space. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need anymore is essential since it makes no sense to pack, load, and unpack belongings you’ll need to get rid of anyway.
As soon as you know a move is pending, get started on weeding through your stuff — but don’t rush it. Be systematic and go through each room, taking care to handle every item before making a decision. Be aware that decluttering may take anywhere from a week to a month. However long it takes, make separate piles dividing your stuff into what will be thrown away, what will be donated, and what’s going with you — and stick with each decision.
Ease Into It
Start with a couple of easy rooms that have fewer items rather than jumping into a busy space right away. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed by the scope of the task, and it’s a good way to get a feel for decluttering. Begin with the linen closet or the laundry room before heading to bigger projects like the bedroom, garage, and attic.
There’s no need to take along two of anything when you move, so make a special point of weeding out the duplicates. Most of us have accumulated quite a few duplicate items over the years; two cookie jars, two egg timers, two sets of luggage, etc. You’ll probably find that getting rid of duplicate items makes your move, as well as the unpacking process, a lot easier.
Sell What You Can
Avoid throwing away anything that can be recycled or donated to a charitable organization. And look for opportunities to make a few dollars selling stuff you no longer need at a yard sale or through a consignment store. And there’s always eBay, Craigslist, or various smartphone apps that make it easy to sell anything you’re not taking with you.
The Right Home
Ideally, your new home should be smaller and easier to clean and maintain — that’s the benefit of downsizing. Look for a home that offers easy accessibility and safety, especially if you have reduced mobility or use an assistive device like a walker or wheelchair. A ranch-style home with level transitions between rooms and hardwood flooring is often the best layout for older adults.
Safety is of particular concern for a senior who has Alzheimer’s disease. A home without stairs or one with a first-floor bedroom is optimal. Also, look for properties with bathrooms that have safety features like grab rails, non-slip flooring in the shower, and an elevated toilet. Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers can help you make the necessary modifications or completely remodel your bathroom. It may also be necessary to modify the front entrance if stairs present an obstacle.
Professional movers make what can be a difficult experience easier to cope with for an emotionally compromised senior. Look for movers that have experience helping seniors and keeping their treasured belongings safe. Bear in mind that June, July, and August are peak moving seasons, so consider scheduling your move for the fall or early spring.
If you’re packing your own belongings, use moving boxes that are designed to hold up under the weight and wear and tear of moving. They should have built-in handles on both sides that give you leverage and help protect your back. Use packing labels and indicate clearly what each box contains. Make liberal use of packing paper to avoid sustaining damage en route. Consider using a support belt if you’ll be lifting heavy objects, don’t hunch over, and lift with your knees.
Downsizing doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. Instead, think of it as transitioning to a cleaner, freer lifestyle. Be methodical about decluttering belongings to make sure you don’t lose anything you want to keep. Before long, you’ll be ready to begin the next chapter of your life!
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