When a move is imminent one of the first thoughts many seniors have is: “What am I going to do with all this stuff?” Living in a home for decades usually means every empty storage space is full of possessions that are outdated or no longer needed or used. They just pile up and remain out of sight and out of mind until it’s time for downsizing in retirement. This can be a big job but downsizing in retirement can also be easier if seniors follow a few essential tips.
Tip #1: Enlist help upfront. While many seniors can handle downsizing in retirement by themselves, having help on hand can make it easier and even fun. Kids or grandkids can pitch in to help sort items, carry boxes and fill trash bags. They may also discover some great finds amid all the mess and give new life to things no longer wanted. Getting others on board ahead of time can also relieve some of the strain associated with the job, physically and mentally. For those with no helpers available, find a pro at National Association of Senior Move Managers.
Tip #2: Create a sorting system. Before starting to sort out those boxes and bins, create a system for where everything is ultimately going. Allocate separate spaces for items that are: Being kept Going to charity or in a garage sale Intended for family members Being recycled Going in the trash As a space fills up, remove items to a dumpster, recycling center, charity, or a place set aside for garage sale items. For those items destined for a friend or family member, tag them with a name so they end up with the right person. Those things that will be kept can be packed for the move. In so doing, the downsizing can proceed in an orderly fashion and seniors will avoid becoming overwhelmed. For more ways to make sorting and downsizing to retirement more productive, the seniorcaring.com blog, “The Ultimate Checklist for Seniors Downsizing” has great ideas.
Tip #3: Don’t try to do it all at once. Unless there’s a need to hurry, take downsizing in retirement at a measured pace. Try three afternoons the first week and see how much gets done. Small sorting jobs like going through family photos, art and memorabilia can be done alone in the mornings or evenings while enjoying a cup of coffee or glass of wine. The key is to take your time and do it without regrets. For a great play-by-play process, the homelight.com blog, “Your Four-Week Downsizing Checklist: Go from Big to Small Fast,” offers suggestions.
Tip #4: Expect emotional days. Downsizing in retirement can be a very emotional time for seniors. But what may feel like an ending is actually a new beginning. So, instead, embrace that new beginning and downsizing in retirement will become something to do for your future happiness. Among the many reasons for heightened emotions are sadness, fear of the unknown, the general stress of moving, and fear of loss, all of which can make it hard on seniors and their families. Before beginning downsizing in retirement, check out the seniorlifestylemag.com article, “Emotions of Downsizing Revealed!” to know what to expect.
Tip #5: Pass along family heirlooms before moving. Although many seniors bequeath family heirlooms and other possessions in their wills, seniors might also consider passing along those gifts while they are living. Perhaps that bracelet inherited from Grandma would make a lovely gift to a granddaughter or a piece of art your son loves could be given now instead of later. When downsizing in retirement, many seniors realize they not only don’t have room for everything, they also don’t need everything and would rather be alive to see a loved one treasure their gift. To avoid any family upheavals when gifting family heirlooms, the timesunion.com article, “Divide family heirlooms without a fight,” offers excellent insights. Downsizing in retirement can be disruptive but following these simple tips can help seniors get organized and avoid stress and anxiety. At Sonrisa Senior Living, we look forward to helping each resident make the move from home to luxury senior living, where a carefree and fun lifestyle awaits. Find out more about the housing choices and amenities at Sonrisa by contacting us today!