I’ve always heard that moving ranks very high on the list of high-stress life events, and based on my experience, they’re right. Whether the move is cross-town or cross country the idea of organizing, packing, discarding, cleaning and the many other tasks is daunting.
When you’re older and have made the decision to downsize, whether the move is to a new state, community or in an established home with family, sorting through decades of family mementos is overwhelming.
Many have experienced quite a few moves in our lifetime representing major life changes – marriage, new opportunities, new adventures. For a senior, downsizing may feel like a mixed blessing. The move may offer a sense of relief from expenses and the workload of keeping up with a home. But quite often this move is an unwelcome announcement of loss of independence, illness, and perhaps loneliness.
Below are a few tips to help you ease the transition for yourself or a loved one as they seek to manage this major life change.
1. Start now — slowly declutter the home well before the move. Six months to a year before the move, start organizing items. Try piles such as “must have”, “maybe” and “discard”.
2. Shred, toss, or give away obvious items – old paperwork such as cancelled checks, tax records over seven 7ears, outdated medications, clothes or household items that are just taking up space. Ask an accountant for advice if you aren’t sure what to keep or dispose of.
3. Collect and keep important papers together – deeds, wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, medical records, military records, birth certificates, passports, etc.
4. Continue decluttering and organizing monthly until you start the major activities of sorting and packing for the move.
5. Have you been storing items for your children? Now is the time to close their free storage facility and give back all of their keepsakes – artwork, sports trophies, yearbooks, music, etc.
6. Enlisting trusted friends and family to help your loved one clear their clutter can be an enormous help.
7. Give away instead of throw away. It might be easier to part with items when they are given to the needy or a local thrift store. Or, pass along items of sentimental value to heirs now.
8. Identify valuable items and then decide if you’ll keep them, give away, or sell them. The best way to determine value is to consult with a professional who is a Certified Estate Liquidator & Certified Personal Property Appraiser.
These tips should help you or your loved ones make great progress towards downsizing. Sometimes, though, the situation is so dire that professional help is warranted. Senior move managers help the elderly downsize their possessions and are experts at helping with the transition into senior living. Visit the National Association of Senior Move Managers for advice on senior living issues.