While it is never too early to get rid of the clutter, there comes a time when getting organized is a necessity. If you or your parent are suddenly living alone, they sometimes need to move to a smaller place. Whether it is because of finances, health or other reasons, the move can be a stressful one.
This is a very tough time. Frustration and sadness can add to an already tense situation. Try taking photos of some of the items that will not be going to the new home. Having pictures can make things easier for the person. Know that emotions are running high and try not to argue, get angry or make things more difficult. This can be the hardest part of the move.
The first step in senior downsizing is to figure out a plan of attack. Set some realistic goals. How much time can you spend on this each day or each week? Who else will pitch in to make this happen? Do you need to hire a professional organizer to help you get started or formulate a plan? Who will pack and move everything?
Find a relatively clear, staging area where sorting can be done. Sort items into four categories: keep, sell, give away (or donate) and trash. If there is no good staging space, an alternative is to use brightly colored stickers for each of the four categories. You will simply walk around the house and apply the appropriately colored sticker to each item.
Be smart about what stays and what goes. Where is the person moving? Will they still have a use for cooking utensils or dishes? Maybe they only need a few dishes, mugs and glasses for snack items and drinks, and will take their meals in a common room.
How much furniture will fit? Look into the size of the new home. Think about what items will physically fit in the new location and which will not. Paying a mover to relocate belongings is expensive. You don’t want to pay for things that won’t fit in the new place.
Plan for family members to get together and see what they might want from the sell or give away items. Selling a treasured family object could cause hurt feelings among relatives. It would be much nicer to have a loved one keep certain items that have special meaning to the family or individual.
Once the family has gone through the items, think about selling or giving away what is not going to the new home. There are times when donating items can be easier and even more lucrative than selling them. There is a tax write off for donations, while selling can take precious time and may not bring in the amount of money expected. That being said, any suspected valuable antiques, jewelry or other items may be worth a lot of money. Having some things appraised might prove to be a good idea.
When the time comes to move yourself or your senior family member into a smaller home, keep these tips in mind. It could be to your advantage to get rid of the clutter sooner rather than later. We recommend that everyone declutter regularly, at least once every three to five years, to keep things organized and under control.