The Ultimate Checklist for Seniors Downsizing

Nov 9, 2017

The Ultimate Checklist for Seniors Downsizing

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There is a trend sweeping the nation to downsize or minimize possessions, as more people are moving into smaller spaces, like tiny houses. However, when you’re older you accumulate a lot of things over the years. The more you have, the harder it is to downsize or declutter your home. Whether you are preparing to move into a tiny home, a nursing home or in-law quarters, the process of downsizing is the same. When you’re looking around your house at a lifetime of memories, how do you decide what goes and what stays? Downsizing can be full of tough decisions, so here is a helpful checklist for seniors looking to downsize.

Five Tips and Tricks: The Ultimate Checklist for Seniors Downsizing

First of all, downsizing doesn’t have to only happen when it’s time to move out of your home. Even if you plan to stay put, it’s always a good idea to take the time to go through your things and decide what you don’t need anymore. Whether you’re staying or going, consider this checklist for seniors downsizing.

1.     Establish a sorting system

Step one: Figure out how you’re going to sort through your possessions. A helpful tip is to start big. Go through each room and remove the big stuff that you no longer need first. This way you’ll clear the path so that you can pay closer attention to the smaller clutter. Also, start with the rooms that you go into least. These spare rooms or basements are likely full of things you don’t need or use anymore. Make sure that everyone who is helping in the downsizing process understands what items to keep, toss, or donate. Keep any items that you’re still using or that have sentimental value. Throw away things that aren’t useful or have no sentiment, and donate things that maybe you’re not using but someone else could. 

2.     Don’t do it all at once

Don’t think that you’re going to do this on a Saturday afternoon all by yourself. If there’s anything to take away from the checklist for seniors downsizing, it’s that downsizing takes time and thought. You will need to consider how you’re going to take things to the dumpster or to donation drop-offs. You will also need to consider when other people are available to help you lift the bigger items that you need to get rid of. Also, leave yourself time for reflection. Not everything is going to be an obvious keep or toss. For example, there might be things that don’t belong to you but to your children. You don’t want to give these things away or trash them if your kids want the items back. 

3.     Distribute assets

The above point brings us to the process of distributing assets. Make sure that your children or loved ones have a fair shot at taking things that they want from the home before you trash them or donate them. Also, make sure that anything that has sentimental value to you or that has been in the family for generations is accounted for. You don’t want to throw away your great-great grandmother’s wedding ring by accident. 

4.     Take notes

Take notes! Think of the things that are tucked away and not so obvious and write them down. Track what you have decided to keep, trash, or donate so that you know where you’re at in the downsizing process. Notes can also help you keep track of what items you’ve promised to who. Since you’ll most likely be downsizing over an extended period of time, notes ensure you don’t forget anything important. Taking notes is also a good way of documenting your valuables. 

5.     Be prepared for emotions

Lastly, be prepared for emotions. You might be surprised what you find when you start to downsize. Photographs, old school yearbooks, love letters, greeting cards from friends who have now passed away – all those things you’ve kept over the years because they summarize your life can trigger a whirlwind of emotions. That’s why it’s important to leave yourself time to enjoy these memories and reflect before you decide if you’re keeping them or throwing them away. Often times, downsizing can be a very emotional process for everyone involved.

Have you already downsized your home? What are some tips or tricks you would add to this checklist for seniors downsizing? Share with us in the comments below!

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