Preparing for a move to senior living usually includes sorting and minimizing possessions or what we at Thrive call “rightsizing.” While this may seem like a daunting task, there are plenty of easy steps to take to make it manageable. Here are downsizing tips for seniors that eliminate some of the stress and help make the transition to senior living smooth and easy.
Tip #1 – First, declutter. Of all the downsizing tips to begin with, decluttering can be the one that helps the most. Homes are full to the brim with stuff that is often just taking up space. Piles of books and magazines, cupboards full of unused appliances, and bedroom closets that hold old clothes and other items that haven’t seen the light of day for decades. The sheer volume of unneeded “stuff” can be overwhelming. To get down to the items you will be taking to senior living, start by getting rid of everything that is in the way and that is no longer needed. For more ways to make decluttering a breeze, check out the homesandgaradens.com article, “Decluttering tips – 30 ways to declutter your home.”
Tip #2 – Get help. Unless a senior is in excellent health, downsizing may require the assistance of one or more strong people who are able to lift and move heavy objects like boxes of books for donation, bins and bags of old clothes and anything else that won’t be making the move. This is one of the downsizing tips that will not only make the process easier, but it will also make it safer. If family or friends can pitch in, that’s great! They may even be able to use some of the items headed to charity. For seniors who don’t have ready help on hand, there are companies that specialize in helping seniors “rightsize” and move to senior living. To find help, try the Find a Move Manager tool from the National Association of Specialty & Senior Move Managers.
Tip #3 – Create a timeline. It’s so tempting to procrastinate when a big job is at hand, so one of the most practical downsizing tips for staying on track is to create a timeline. As noted in the declutterfly.com blog, “Senior Downsizing Timeline,” a timeline can help not only to organize what to move, but when to move and also listing a home for sale, packing, hiring a mover, changing addresses, and actually moving. Just having a well-planned schedule of events will give seniors and their families peace of mind and let them know when they can lend a helping hand.
Tip #4 – Contact local charities. Depending upon how much is destined for donation, proactively contacting local charities is one of the downsizing tips that really pays off. By finding out what donations they accept (e.g., clothing, bedding, furniture, appliances, tools, equipment, etc.) and whether or not they pick up will save a lot of time down the road. Among the many possibilities are Goodwill, Volunteers of America, The Salvation Army, and Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore. Many churches and social organizations may also appreciate donations for their own charitable projects and fundraisers.
Tip #5 – Keep valuables and important papers in a safe place. It’s the rare move that doesn’t end with something important unaccounted for. Thus, one of the essential downsizing tips is to move valuables — especially fragile ones and important documents like wills, medical information, vital records, stock certificates, and deeds — to another location. One of the best locations is a bank deposit box, or if available, to a trusted family member’s home. Storing them in a fire safe box is also a good idea as is doing a complete itemized inventory so you know what should be there when the move is complete. For a complete guide to keeping valuables safe the ready.gov document “Safeguard Critical Documents and Valuables,” is a great resource.
#6 – Compare floor plans. Yes it is difficult to figure out what will fit and what won’t when moving to a smaller home but comparing floor plans can make it a whole lot easier. All you need are dimensions of rooms and a tape measure to assess furniture and other belongings according to room sizes and configurations. This is one of the downsizing tips that help seniors know what can go where and what cannot go at all. Another easy way to do the comparison is to use floor plan software like the free one from Smartdraw that has great design tools built in.
Downsizing tips (a.k.a. “rightsizing” tips) really can make moving to senior living much easier. At Thrive Senior Living we stand ready to assist with all our residents on moving day. Learn more about our communities, housing choices and amenities by contacting us today!