Deciding to downsize, as a older adult, can be exciting but daunting. Realizing that your home is too big, has too many stairs and/or involves too much upkeep comes with a whole host of questions and concerns.
As a “Navy Junior,” my mother had to downsize every two – four years. It wasn’t until she and my father moved to Williamsburg, VA that they lived in a house for more than four years, and things started to pile up. They made the decision in their late 60’s to start “culling” their belongings, getting rid of papers that were no longer needed and dispensing with items they didn’t need or want. While it was overwhelming at times, I remember my mother saying what a relief it was to get rid of extraneous belongings.
Based on personal and professional experience, the following tips will make your experience less overwhelming.
Ask for Help
Ask your kids, siblings, close friend or neighbor or a moving coordinator – yes, there are professional moving coordinators – to be the objective person who helps you stay on track and decide if something is worth keeping.
Create and Action Plan
When you find your “assistant,” discuss your intentions and work together to create an action plan. This is especially helpful if you need to put your home on the market or move out by a specific date.
As you and your assistant are working through the plan, both of you will be able to see the progress being made and whether it’s taking more time, which may require additional time than initially planned, or less time.
Additionally, your action plan needs to take your and your assistant’s schedules in to consideration. Some days may be better to work on downsizing than others.
Action plans can be created with a simple writing utensil and paper. You can even use a wall or desk calendar. Though if you prefer the computer route, go for it. It doesn’t matter what method you use as long as it works for you.
Sort Through Your Belongings
As you’re sorting through items it’s tempting to want to keep items that conjure up memories or could be of use one day. But, if you keep too many items then you’re not downsizing.
I’m not suggesting you go from one extreme of keeping most everything to the other extreme of getting rid of most everything. Rather find the balance. This is where your assistant can really help you because he/she will be the objective party. Just as quick you’re ready to keep something you may also be just as quick to get rid of something, which your assistant may point out as being useful in your new home.
Asking yourself the following questions will help you determine whether you keep or let something go.
Decide What to do With Your Unwanted Belongings
Some of your items may still have some useful life and be of value to others. Rather than tossing them in the trash, consider the following:
If you follow these tips and move at your own pace, downsizing will not be an overwhelming chore, and you will likely appreciate your accomplishment and be ready for a fresh new start.
Anne Kempsell is the vice president of sales and marketing. She has 18 years in the retirement community industry and has herself moved over 25 times during her life as a “Navy Junior”, as well as the wife of a minister. She recently moved to Lancaster, PA to be near her grandchildren and finds herself still downsizing.