Over the span of decades, seniors have accumulated a lot of belongings in their homes. They also have allowed many belongings to accumulate over the years due to the fact that they were too busy to sort through their possessions.
They were occupied with work, and with family. Even if some of these seniors did not have children of their own, they were occupied with taking care of other responsibilities which distracted them from sorting out their belongings.
However, for those seniors that did have children and ended up becoming empty nesters, the reality of them needing to downsize would be hitting them quite hard at some point.
Even for the seniors that did not have kids, they also know that downsizing, if they lived in a larger dwelling, would be inevitable. Eventually, seniors will move into either a nursing home, assisted living program, with their family, or a small condo or tiny house.
Wherever seniors move, the fact that they will be downsizing regardless means they will need to sort through their possessions. They will also need to declutter their homes, as well as make other preparations before they downsize and move into their new dwelling.
Now let’s look at the ultimate downsizing checklist for seniors which includes – tips on how they can make the preparations effectively:
Create An Effective Sorting System
Never Do It All In One Day
Line Up Help For When You Organize Your Belongings
Before Junking Or Donating Any Items, Ask Your Loved Ones And Friends If They Want Any Of Your Old Possessions
Sort Through Your Items Carefully
Take Notes While You Are Sorting Through Your Belongings
Make A Plan For How You Will Get Rid Of Items That Are Not Needed At All
Start Calling Moving Companies
Make A Plan Where You Place Furniture And New Items In The New Home
Don’t Forget To Take Care Of The Critical Loose Ends Before You Move
1. Create An Effective Sorting System
The first thing to do before making other preparations is to create a sorting system that is going to be the easiest to follow. This entails going into each room and literally sorting out the items, and it is best to start with the larger items or clutter before moving to the smaller ones.
While sorting the items, create two areas on the floor. One area will be meant for the items that are determined to be kept whether they have any use for the future or that the items to keep have sentimental meaning. The other area will be for the items that are determined to be junked or donated due to the fact that you no longer need or want them. This will help keep you organized while going through this process.
For instance, if the first room you begin to work on is the master bedroom, then designate two areas on the floor in the bedroom to throw the items onto. The one area will be for the items that you will want to keep, and the other will be for the items you don’t want to keep. The first place to start would be in any of the corners in your bedroom. If you see an old fan squared away in the corner and you feel that you will have any use for it in the future, then put the fan on to the area of the floor that is designated for the items that you want to keep.
If you see an old small television in the same corner that no longer works, then add it to the other areas of the floor that is designated for the items that will be junked or donated. And keep going through every corner of the bedroom and just keep repeating the process. Eventually, you will have sorted out everything in the bedroom, and then you can move onto the closet, and rinse and repeat. After you are done with sorting the master bedroom, then you can move onto another room into the house, and keep repeating the same process.
2. Never Do It All In One Day
The next part to understand with this checklist for seniors downsizing is allowing yourself plenty of time to sort through your belongings. In other words, do not even consider going through your entire house in one day. That will only create more stress. Be sure to give yourself as much time as you possibly can as this will be a major task that cannot be completed in one day.
In fact, allow yourself enough time to sort your items because it will be an exhausting and time-consuming process no matter how many items you have in your home. The amount of time to give yourself to sort your belongings is entirely up to you, but it is best to give yourself at least one month to get organized. It is more ideal to give yourself at least 6 months, especially if you have a lot of possessions.
3. Line Up Help For When You Organize Your Belongings
The fact of the matter is that decluttering your home and sorting out your items is energy and time-consuming. You are not going to be able to do the entire job yourself, no matter how much time you make for doing this task. Ask any family members or even friends to help. If you don’t have family living nearby or if you are not comfortable with asking your friends, then you can hire organizers that can help you sort through your possessions. Either way, don’t do this alone.
There are professionals out there willing to help you downsize. To find a professional organizer, we recommend you look at the National Association of Productivity & Organizing (NAPO) website. All you have to do is select the city you are in, select the option for downsizing, and they will match you will a professional to assist you.
4. Before Junking Or Donating Any Items, Ask Your Loved Ones And Friends If They Want Any Of Your Old Possessions
If you have a perfectly working radio that you found while sorting through the bedroom closet that you don’t want to take with you to your new home, don’t toss it out just yet. A family member or a friend may want that radio if it is in perfect working condition. With that said, don’t junk or donate unwanted items that are usable. Someone important to you may want those items.
Additionally, if you do have your friends or family members helping you sort through your items and decluttering, you can ask them right then and there if they want an item that you don’t need. This way if they do want anything, they can take it with them after they leave your home for the day. That is one less item for you to worry about as well.
5. Sort Through Your Items Carefully
The one thing that may be consuming your mind while you are decluttering and organizing your possessions is how quickly you want to have the job done. However, the last thing you will want to do is throw out an item by accident, especially if they are small. If you found that you had tossed away your great-grandmother’s wedding ring by mistake while cleaning your home, that would be very difficult to handle emotionally.
That means to examine each item before tossing them out, especially if they are small and can be easily missed. Packing your keepsakes properly is important so you don’t misplace them. If you are looking to pack your heirlooms and keepsakes safely, read about information on Storage Solutions for Your Keepsakes, here.
6. Take Notes While You Are Sorting Through Your Belongings
You will want to make sure that while you are going from room to room to sort your belongings to note which items you are keeping, and which items you are giving away, and junking. Notes are also necessary for helping you keep track of the items a family member had wanted that you had sorted, and promised to give them. Note-taking is also good so that your valuables can be documented. It also makes the entire clearing process easier overall.
7. Make A Plan For How You Will Get Rid Of Items That Are Not Needed At All
Once you have gone through your belongings and your family members and friends had the opportunity to take what they wanted – the next step will need to be taken. And that is determining how you will remove the items that are not wanted and needed from your home.
The first thing to do when it comes to removing items that are not usable at all, which is literally junk is to call a junking company for the removal. It is a little bit costly, but by calling a junking company is the best solution if you have a lot of items that are not usable. They will remove those junk items which will also remove a lot of stress from you.
For the items that are usable but you don’t want or need, and that your family and friends don’t want, there are several options for removing those. Firstly, you can donate those items by calling charities around and asking if they will be in the area to pick up items that are meant to be donated. Sure enough at least one charitable organization will be in the area to pick up donations. Be sure to throw those items in a bag so they can pick it up.
Another option is for you to hold a garage sale or sent the items to estate sale companies. You can also go the auction or ‘wanted ad’ website route such as utilizing eBay. The point is that there are different ways to send away your items which does not involve you having to expend too much of your energy.
Once you have your items sorted, you will need to start calling moving companies in order to get estimates. Additionally, you will want to hire the movers to pack the belongings that you plan on taking with you, and well as them unpacking the belongings in your new place. Moving is a stressful thing to do and you will want to make sure this transition goes as smoothly and easily as it possibly can.
It is also important that you have a contract that is written up that there is coverage for items that are damaged or lost. For more information on how to hire a moving company, visit this helpful article that clearly explains the essential 12 Steps to Hiring a Mover.
9. Make A Plan Where You Place Furniture And New Items In The New Home
Whether you are downsizing to a tiny home, a condo, a nursing home, or elsewhere, you will want to plan ahead where to put your furniture and other belongings. Be sure to get the floorplans of the new home to make this easier for you to plan. Remember that you are moving into a dwelling that is of a smaller space. You don’t want to find that the sofa and large chair you wanted to take with you at the last minute will not fit in the same room – which will put you in a position of struggling to find a better place for the chair or the sofa. If you know where to place the furniture ahead of time by analyzing the floorplan, you will be able to tell the movers where to place the items without having to worry about it otherwise.
10. Don’t Forget To Take Care Of The Critical Loose Ends Before You Move
You already took care of your items and sorted out which ones you are taking with you and which ones you are not. You also had arranged a mover. You then need to take care of the important things that cannot be forgotten to be taken care of.
Taking care of the important paperwork such as notifying your insurance companies, lawyer, accountants, license bureau, the banks, and other companies that there will be a change in address
Refilling prescriptions ahead of time
If there are pets involved, to make arrangements for moving the pets with you
Purchase a lot of non-perishable food for not having to worry about cooking or setting up elaborate meals while settling in to the new place
Purchase the necessary toiletries needed while moving so you are well stocked on it ahead of time
Any other loose ends that you need to take care of before making the move
And most importantly, you need to be prepared for dealing with an ocean of emotions while going through this process. You are making one of the largest transitions through life and you will be going down memory lane while going through your items. You will remember the good times, the bad times, and the ugly times. And this will make you sad and you will be grieving for having to downsize based on the fact that you are entering another major phase in life.
Be sure to talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling and if you feel it is necessary, talk to a therapist. Downsizing is not an easy thing to do when you are a senior, and you cannot do any of this type of job alone.
Timothy grew up in the moving industry helping his family's Southern California moving company grow into a million-dollar business. Timothy is a professional in online marketing for moving companies and is currently helping movers nationwide with email newsletter marketing & other various online marketing campaigns. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.