Six downsizing tips for a move to senior living

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A couple embraces each other in a living room with moving boxes.

While moving to a senior living community promises a fresh new beginning, more often than not it also means you’ll need to purge some personal belongings. Wading through a lifetime’s worth of personal effects can be daunting. However with some guidance, you can free yourself from clutter while holding on to what you love the most. Keep in mind these downsizing tips when preparing to move into a senior living community:

1) Map the new space

How much you need to downsize greatly depends on your new environment. While one-bedroom apartments at the Terraces have ample living areas, the community’s residential-living cottage homes have more room for furnishings and storage, if this is a requirement. Measure, make a floor plan and map out which furniture fits. This will help you make decisions that are practical rather than emotional.

2) Work backwards in organizing

When downsizing, it’s common to focus on what to let go. Actually, taking the opposite approach can sometimes prove more effective. Begin by selecting what you’ll keep based on future needs. For example, if you’re going to make the Terraces home, having a fully equipped fitness center onsite allows you to get rid of that old stationary bike. On a similar note, rid yourself of any duplicates. Do you need two humidifiers, four throw blankets, and twelve pairs of shoes? Take your time and focus on being realistic about your needs.

3) Take it one room at a time

Take the stress out of de-cluttering by making each mountain into a molehill. Instead of tackling the entire house at once, split the task room-by-room and inventory each space one at a time.  Attics, garages and basements may need a lot of downsizing, but you’ll tend to suffer fewer emotional attachments to items stored there than in everyday living spaces. Save the bedroom and living room for last, as they are most likely to hold sentimental items.

4) Make it a family affair

You’ll want some physical help with bulky belongings and emotional support as well, so why not enlist family and friends? It’s the perfect time to share stories and family history as remembrances arise over keepsakes. But exercise your right to make your own choices on what to keep. Downsizing can be cathartic. It’s important that adult children not add to the stress by vying for control.

5) Create digital memories

Let technology help you keep memories close at hand on a tablet or phone. Snap digital photos and write brief descriptions of how you came by things that are difficult to let go. Make digital copies of photo albums, as well as records, tapes and DVDs. Sounds like a perfect job for tech-savvy grandkids!

6) Decide what to donate

If “waste not, want not” is your motto, you may have misgivings about just throwing away all of your extra clutter. A more eco-friendly idea is to sell, donate or pass along any items that are still in good condition. Websites such as eBay and Craigslist make online selling easy, while an old-fashioned yard sale is also a good option. Donating is as simple as a drop-off at a charity such as Goodwill and could have tax benefits. If you have heirlooms earmarked for others, why not pass them along early? Instead of dwelling on nostalgia, you’ll feel good about bringing immediate joy to family and friends.

Embrace the changes

Perhaps the best guidance when it comes to moving to a new senior living community is to welcome the change. “Out with the old” truly means “in with the new” when it comes to getting rid of your effects. View downsizing as an opportunity to shed clutter and design a new living space that reflects your present and future, as well as the past.





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