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Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

Helping your senior loved ones downsize their lives can be a difficult and emotional task. Donating old clothes, throwing away appliances that no longer work, or giving items to family members that have been collected through the years can be overwhelming. This process is even harder for your senior loved ones, who may have a hard time letting go of the possessions that they’ve acquired.

If your senior loved one is moving to an assisted living space, or guest house where there may be few storage closets, downsizing is necessary to move on to the next phase of their lives. This is a tough conversation to have with your loved ones, and even tougher to go through all their possessions. However, there are many ways you can make the transition to downsize easier for your senior loved ones.

Discuss Decluttering Goals

Before doing any research or cleaning of their space, have a talk with your senior loved one about their goals for the decluttering process. It’s important that you’re both on the same page before starting this hefty task.

Ask questions such as: How much do they want to downsize? Are they ready to let a lot of their items go or do they want to keep as much as possible? Are there any non-negotiables when decluttering? What is important to them?

Knowing and understanding their goals for the decluttering process will help to establish actionable goals and allows both parties to be on the same page. Remember, this is a big deal for your senior loved one. Try to be empathetic and flexible to accommodate what they’re looking to accomplish.

Research the Space You’re Moving Into

Before going through and downsizing, it’s important to first understand the size of the space you’ll be working with. Take some time to measure the floor space, closet space, and any other storage that will be available. This will help you to accurately determine just how many personal belongings will be able to comfortably fit in the new space.

Having an idea of the floor plan can help you plan the space, how you’ll lay out the furniture, and how you can make use of storage solutions. Even if it’s a tiny space you’re working with, there are many storage solutions such as door organizers, furniture with hidden storage, hooks, and shelving units that can help organize the space.

If there is an outdoor area, check to see if any storage solutions can be created outdoors such as a shed. This is a great way to store larger belongings that you don’t need access to all of the time. Having an idea and plan of how much your senior loved one can bring to their new space will ensure that you’re only downsizing what’s necessary.

Create a Decluttering Plan

Decluttering a house is a long process. It’s not something that can be done in one day. Having an organized decluttering plan can help the process run smoothly. Start by creating a plan that divides the house up into rooms or sections. Focusing on one section at a time will make the process seem a little less overwhelming.

The easiest way to get through the house is to start from front to back, slowly making your way through the entire house. The process of going through each room will probably take more time than you expect, so it’s important to make sure to give yourself ample time to go through each room. Having an organized timeline for decluttering your space will help make the process run smoother and provide reassurance for your senior loved one.

From there, it’s important to have a decluttering plan for going through each of the physical items. An easy way to organize your items is to divide them into four different piles. One pile for items that will be kept, a second pile for donations to family members, a third pile for donations to charity, and a garbage item pile. After you complete a room, make sure to drop off the items to a donation center, send off items to family, and correctly dispose of items you will not use before moving on to the next room. For the rest of the kept items, you can go ahead and pack those into moving boxes.

Intentionally Go Through Each Item

When going through each item, you might find that your senior loved one wants to hold on to a lot of them and is unwilling to let go. It is hard to emotionally let go of items that were part of their lives for such a long time. This can cause sadness, slow down your decluttering plan, and ultimately cause your senior loved one to reconsider moving. It’s important to have a plan when going through each item. We suggest following Marie Kondo’s joyful cleaning tactics, which will help provide a framework of what questions you should ask yourself before deciding what to do with each item. The four questions include:

  • What purpose does this item fulfill?
  • Do I have a set home for this item?
  • Am I showing enough gratitude towards this item?
  • Does this item spark joy?

The point of this exercise is to only hold on to items that make us truly happy every time we wear, use, or look at the item. This will help sort through their feelings for each item and give old trinkets the appreciation they deserve. Remember, this is a mentally exhausting process, so allow your senior loved one to take their time reflecting on the items in their house.

Carefully Organize Photos/Memories

Finding easier ways to organize precious photos or memories will create longevity for those items and an amazing keepsake for your senior loved one. Many times, photos will collect in an old folder or bin and not be properly preserved to last a long time. Taking the time to put those photos into a scrapbook and digitally scan the photos onto a backup drive is a great way to preserve these memories.

Sometimes, you may find videos that are still programmed to work with a VCR. It’s a smart idea to update the format of old videos to DVDs or files that can be stored on a computer. The size is smaller and provides multiple backup options in-case something happens to the original photos.

If digitalizing and scrapbooking are not your forte, consider hiring a company to take over the process. Local electronics companies are ideal to convert your VCR tapes to DVDs or digital files. Online services, like Mixbook, cab create scrapbooks for you out of the photos you upload.

Hire a Moving Company

Once you have everything sorted, you’ll need to move everything to a new place. Hiring professional movers can take the stress out of moving. They will come box, pack, ship, and unpack your belongings to make the process feel painless. This is a great way to make sure valuable possessions are properly taken care of.

Professional moving companies can also assist with setting up item donation services with local charities, along with coordinating the disposal of items that are no longer usable. Decluttering your house will take a good amount of time, so having expert movers by your side is a great idea for a smooth transition into your senior loved one’s new living situation.

Find a Realtor with Experience

Downsizing often is accompanied by selling the place that was being occupied. It’s important to find a talented agent who has experience in the downsizing process to help you on your selling journey. An experienced real estate agent will help you stage the house properly along with suggesting any necessary property improvements to make sure you’re making top dollar for your living space.

When your senior loved one is trying to purchase a smaller property, it’s also important to have the right real estate agent by your side. Your real estate agent will be able to find houses located in ideal communities that don’t make you feel like you’re completely downgrading. There are many active senior community options, so having someone who is well-versed with the communities will help ensure that you’re finding the most ideal environment for your senior loved one.

Helping a senior loved one with downsizing is not an easy process. We understand that a lot of thoughts, emotions, and time go into these situations. We hope that these tips have helped make the downsizing process a bit smoother. If you’re looking for a premier real estate agency to help with your downsizing needs, Pavel Buys Houses is the perfect company for you.

Our Real Estate Team Truly Cares

At Pavel Buys Houses, we are licensed real estate agents in Massachusetts that can help you sell the house for what it’s truly worth and do our best to provide you with senior downsizing services, tailored to your needs. If you don’t want the time commitment of selling the property the traditional way, we also buy homes fast in Massachusetts (and pay cash while offering fast closings!).

Our priority is making sure you have the advice you need to make the best decision for your situation. Call us today for a consultation or to receive a free, no-obligation cash offer at 781-309-7085.

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