Whether you’re transitioning into a senior assisted living facility, moving into a smaller house, or just want to get control of the clutter in your life, your senior years are the perfect time to downsize. Downsizing is challenging but it can also be empowering, clearing your house of possessions you don’t use and freeing up your time. After all, most possessions require some type of maintenance, so getting rid of things you don’t use means you’ll have more time to enjoy life. The task at hand can seem overwhelming, so we’ve put together some simple tips for getting through the job with ease, designed especially for seniors.
Stay positive. A positive mindset is crucial for success in all endeavors, including downsizing. Energize yourself for your new chapter in life, whether it’s at a new place to live or just simplifying your life in your current house. Remember how excited you were when you went off to college or moved into your own place for the first time and try to recreate that excitement in your mind once again.
Take it slow. If your circumstances allow, don’t rush things. Spending all day going through possessions is physically and emotionally draining. Instead, pre-determine a “shift” – maybe two or three hours – and stop sorting when your shift is over. You can even set a timer so that you don’t lose track of time.
Label as you go. The process of going through possessions involves deciding about each item – will you toss it, donate it, give it to a family member, store it, or keep it? Once you’ve made the decision, label the item accordingly and move on. For most items, you can use removable stickers (be sure they don’t stick too strongly to the item’s surface), but for heirlooms and valuables, make a list instead, describing the item and whether you will keep it or give it to a family member.
Draw a plan. Whether you’re moving to a new space or staying put, draw a scaled model of your living space on paper. Graph paper makes this easy – you can use each square to represent one foot (this is the simplest way but may be difficult for large houses) or each square can represent two to four feet. For the items you want to keep, make a paper cutout in the same scale and label it. This way, as you decide which furniture pieces to keep, you can see if they fit in your new space or try different ways of arranging them in your current home.
Keepsakes. Downsizing keepsakes can be the hardest part of the process. You’ve collected a lifetime of memories but may not have room to keep them all. Go through and enjoy all the memories as you decide what to do with each piece. If gifting them to family members, tell the story of how you came to have that item. Collections that are too large to keep can be remembered with photos. Take a picture of the item and put it in an album along with a story about what the item means to you when you got it, and who you were with when you got it. You might also keep a small portion of a large collection to save space.
Hire professionals. Finally, the physical demands of downsizing can be overwhelming, so consider hiring professionals to do the lifting and storing for you. Look for a professional, licensed moving company that specializes in senior downsizing.
Downsizing can be especially helpful when it’s time to transition to senior assisted living. When it’s time for you or a family member to make that move, contact our helpful senior care professionals at Ashbridge Manor Senior Living. We help you make the transition easy. At Ashbridge Manor, our facilities and programs emphasize wellness and a welcoming sense of community with a variety of fun daily activities. You can find us at 971 E. Lancaster Avenue in Downingtown, PA, call 610.269.8800, or contact us online for more information.