We are pleased to share a guest blog with you today. Jim Vogel started ElderAction.org as a means to provide resources to seniors and to adult children and caregivers who are caring for senior parents. He is passionate about spreading awareness to improve senior living.
How to Manage Downsizing Your Home
So, as a senior, you have decided it’s time to downsize your home. But where do you start? There is a significant amount of work that goes with any move, but even more so with downsizing. It takes a lot of preparation and planning, but the effort is going to be worth it.
This is, by far, the most difficult step for many, but especially those of us who have spent decades accumulating memories. Deciding what to keep and what to let go of can take much longer than expected, as you may find yourself traveling down memory lane. It’s a good idea, then, to give yourself extra time when sorting through mementos and family treasures. If it doesn’t hold a strong memory or if you have multiples of the same item (think kitchenware or tools), then it’s time to let go. Offer things to friends and family so that you know the items you love are going to good homes, especially if you have adult children who could use them.
If you get truly stuck, one expert suggests putting your items into categories—art, jewelry, or the like—and then asking yourself what you would bring if you could only take three items. This can help you narrow your selections down and let go of things. It may also be smart to hire an appraiser to go through your home and see if any of your older pieces of furniture or art are worth selling.
This can be tricky, especially if it is only you, or you and a spouse, trying to organize an entire home. Often, we have decades’ worth of things, all with memories attached, and they can take weeks, if not longer, to sort.
Try to get family and close friends to assist with the process of not only sorting, but getting ready to pack and move. If no one can spare the time or they are just too far away, it may be prudent to get a professional to help. According to ImproveNet, the average cost to hire a professional organizer is $380. However, the hours you save will be well worth the cost. As we age, mobility and energy can diminish, so additional help is invaluable. They can also aid in deciding what to retain and how best to store items.
If you cannot bear to part with certain things that just won’t fit in your home, then storage is a possible solution. If you choose storage, make a deal with yourself: If you put something in storage and six months go by and you have not used it, then give it away, sell it or donate it. Storage costs can add up over time, so do not get bogged down holding onto things you just won’t use or see frequently. Think of storage as a temporary solution to give you more time to decide what you will keep and what just has to go.
Start planning your move months in advance. You’ll have to take care of utilities, updating your address, as well as various technical aspects of moving. Additionally, planning the physical, more taxing aspects takes time. Move during a low-traffic time of year and aim for when the weather will be best. Get moving supplies well in advance, and pack up things you don’t use often early.
Be practical while packing. Use clothes, towels, blankets or anything soft to wrap up breakable items. Leave dressers full of clothes, and plastic wrap them tightly shut. If you feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do and the effort it takes to do it, consider hiring packers and/or movers.
Downsizing is considerable work. There is so much more to do than just packing and moving, but with the right help, you can smooth the process. You’ll be in a neighborhood of your own choosing, and hopefully have more time to enjoy yourself during your golden years. Despite the temporary stress, it will all be worth it in the end.
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