Minimize the Stress of Downsizing your Home
As the stages of our lives go by, most of us will find ourselves ready to downsize. Whether we move to a smaller home, a retirement community, a nursing home or to a home of a friend or relative, we will be faced with the daunting challenge of dealing with lots (and lots) of possessions. Moving to a smaller house requires going through belongings and furniture with the goal of getting rid of some of it. Downsizing is a time consuming and exhausting process for anyone, but especially for seniors.
There are companies that provide services for this task. Following your specific directions, they can help you to locate, organize and sort through your personal belongings and help you determine which items will and will not physically fit in your new home. Some services my help by appraising items that are to be sold, and may even help you to sell these items through an estate sale, online auction, a collecter, a re-seller or other means. These service providers may arrange for storage of certain items, while professionally packing up others, such as family heirlooms to ship to family members. Often, these companies can also help to coordinate change of address with Social Security, post office and utilities.
When downsizing, there are a number of things you can do to help make the process less stressful and proceed more smoothly.
Know your new space
Make sure that you know the size and layout of the new place. This may help decide what items you can take with you. Some new living spaces may offer services such as meals – in this case, many kitchen tools will no longer be needed.
Tackle only one room at a time
It will be a challenge to declutter some rooms. It is best to begin in rooms that are used the least, such as the garage that would have the least emotional attachments.
Separate out the things that one uses often from the things that are barely used at all
Decide which things to
~ Give to family or friends
~ Sell/Donate or
Jo Remillard, a.k.a. the Downsize Diva, writes in the March edition of Dare to Downsize: “The biggest obstacle and most emotional is what to do with your possessions! Everything has a memory attached to it. …..The difficulty is having two opposite perspectives. One person wants to part with an item while the other wants to hold on to it” Read more.
Jodie Rosen, Memory Preservationist with Pages-2-Remember, counsels her clients on collecting stories in scrapbooks or photo books. She shares this story:
A few years ago I was helping my parents prepare their house for sale. It was time for them to downsize. The four bedroom house that I grew up in was now too big. My childhood home was going to become someone else’s home.
There are so many memories within those walls: My sisters and I playing with our “Barbies”, the ballets and plays we performed for our parents in the living room, cooking Mom breakfast in bed for her birthday, Thanksgiving dinners, piano lessons, watching home movies, the list seems endless.
While we were cleaning, we took a break and looked through all our family photo albums. Starting with the black and white baby photos, family vacations, high school prom photos (what was that guys’ name), weddings and now grandchildren.
But wait – where are all the photos of my parents’ childhood? Finding a couple of boxes buried within a closet revealed a treasure. Photo albums and lots of loose pictures of my parents as children – WOW!
I took them home and sorted through them making a pile for each decade. I guessed the age of Mom and Dad to help with the sorting. I recognized Mom and Dad, but I still needed help identifying the other people. The next time I visited my parents I asked the all-important questions: who, what, where, when as well as anything else they could remember about each photo. I got some wonderful background stories, even stories I had never heard before.
A decision needed to be made: what to do with all these photos and the information I was blessed to learn. If we put everything back in the boxes (although it’s much neater now) will someone take the time to pull it all out and look at it. Probably not.
I saw such enjoyment in my parents faces as they told their stories and “relived” all those memories. A light bulb went on – I would give them the gift of family memories in the form of a photo book. After all I know how to bring faded photos back to life.
I happily took on this project, but kept it a surprise. Not only would their photos be preserved, protected and easy to look at, these photo books would also be a gift to our entire family. What a priceless moment when I presented the photo books to them. The look of joy on each of their faces was an extra gift to me.
Downsizing may seem overwhelming. The biggest thing to remember is “One Step at a Time". Downsizing takes time. You will definitely want to get an early start on the process. It would be wise to start before you even think about moving. Planning and organizing while you alleviate much of the stress.
Here are more helpful resources to help with a smooth downsizing project:
Downsizing Tips for Seniors - Senior Care Homes
Think Out Loud – Downsizing Seniors - Audio
The Emotional Side of Home Downsizing
Dare to Downsize
If hoarding has become the problem with your downsizing progress, be sure to contact a specialist. Hoarding may be based on psychological issues that make people hold on to things. Ezra Home Care offers a Hoarding Program designed to help residents who hoard to overcome these psychological barriers and to attain a clutter-free living space. Learn more.