Many seniors eventually elect to downsize to a smaller home. With kids grown and living in their own homes, seniors may find that they simply don’t need (or want) all the extra space, and that the money they gain from selling a home could help them to enjoy a more comfortable retirement. A smaller home can also make aging in place more achievable, even if it includes the assistance of an in-home caregiver.
Of course, people tend to collect a lot of stuff over the course of a lifetime, and this can make downsizing to a smaller living space like a condo, apartment, or granny flat in a relative’s home difficult, to say the least. How can the process be made easier? Here are a few helpful downsizing tips for seniors.
1. Plan and schedule
Downsizing takes time, so you need to get a head start and give yourself a few weeks to clear the clutter, clean, and pack. Create a schedule and plan which rooms you’re going to work on each day, going through all the items in one room before you move on to the next.
2. Take a page from Clean Sweep
If you ever saw the TLC show “Clean Sweep”, then you know their organized approach to decluttering required separating items into three piles: keep, donate, and trash. This is a simple way to start the process of downsizing, as well. Items that are old, broken, and no longer useful can go into the trash pile, while gently-used items that you no longer need or want can be donated to charity (and earn you a tax write-off in the process). Just remember, downsizing requires that you don’t end up with everything in the “keep” pile, so try to be realistic about which items you actually need and use regularly.
3. Choose items to pass along to loved ones
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of sentimental items, especially family heirlooms or items of sentimental value. What you might want to do is begin passing these items along to children, grandchildren, and other family members now. When was the last time you used your good silver, China, or leaded crystal serving platters? Now is a good time to give them to a grown child that tends to host family dinners.
4. Ask for help
This is a must. There’s just no reason to go it alone when it comes to downsizing. Your family and friends can help you to remove items from rooms, organize them into piles, pack them up, and even transport them to the dump or recycling center, the nearest donation center, and of course, your new residence.
5. Upgrade to digital
If boxes of photos and shelves of photo albums have been growing for years, along with a physical media collection (records, CDs, DVDs, etc.), consider upgrading to a digital storage system that will save you space. It may be a big job, but younger family members could split up tasks in order to upgrade you to a compact, digital system.
6. Organize Packing
Instead of throwing everything in boxes willy-nilly, make sure to label boxes by room and include contents. You should also pack and label a few boxes for necessities you’ll need right away, such as bedding, toiletries, and kitchen supplies. This is also a great opportunity to declutter (see The Senior’s Guide for Decluttering and Feeling at Home for more information). This will ensure a smooth transition to your downsized living space.
If your senior loved one would benefit from downsizing and the help of an in-home caregiver, we can help. Call Family Matters In-Home Care for a free consultation to see how we can support your family.