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Spring Cleaning: Important Downsizing Tips for Seniors

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As the flowers start to bloom and windows open, you might be thinking of ways to help you or your loved one downsize. With that comes the challenge of knowing what to keep, giveaway, or toss.  It can feel like an arduous task at first, but these easy tips can help make the process simple.   

Be patient & take your time   

Downsizing can be a difficult undertaking – there are lots of cherished memories behind each item, and not each one can be kept.  As you or your loved one starts this task, it’s important to remember that it will take time and might not happen all in one day or even one weekend and could take some persuading tthrow away a few items.   

It is best to go slow and be patient; start by picking one box or area to go through and take your time reviewing each item.  

Establish a system for downsizing 

It can be hard knowing which belongings to “hold on to” and which ones to giveaway” or throw away.  In order to keep the process simple, you can follow the three D’s – declutter, donate, and document – outlined in this blog.  This system will help you know which items should be given to a family member or nonprofit organization, which items should be digitized for safe keeping, and which ones can be tossed.  

You can also use these questions from DailyCaring to help identify which items should be kept, given away, or tossed! 

  • Is this item regularly used? Has it been used in the past year? 
  • Does it truly enhance the quality of your senior adult’s life? 
  • Would this item physically fit in their smaller living space and future lifestyle? 
  • Does it have a significant dollar value? 

Keep in mind the reason for downsizing 

There are many reasons why you or your loved one might need to downsize their space.  Maybe they are moving in with a family member, or into a senior living community. For instance, their new home might be smaller so they most likely won’t need to bring all of their furniture or kitchenware.  

Furthermore, not all senior living communities are created equal.  There are several differences between an assisted living community and retirement home, for example.  Check out our living options to understand the key differences in various communities for seniors.  

Consider storage  

Have you gone through and kept more than you’ve donated or tossed?  It happens, which is why there are so many self-storage facilities.  For the items that are too big to take or give away right now, but too memorable to throw away, you can put that item into storage until a more permanent home becomes available.  And for the especially priceless items, climate-controlled would be your best bet.  

Downsizing is rarely easy – there are so many memories associated with our belongings, it can be hard to know which ones to keep, donate, or ultimately throw away.  When you are starting this journey, remember to be patient and take your time.  Armed with a system for identifying which items to keep, throw away, or toss, this seemingly overwhelming task can be a piece of cake.