42248295 - senior couple holding yard saleThere’s no question that there is an art to decluttering. For many of us this process comes naturally, but for others, maybe not as much. With decades of possessions we accumulate over time, it can be an overwhelming task once you decide to pair down and downsize. If you are moving into a senior assisted care facility, the time to simplify is now. Perhaps, you’ve reached a time when your children are grown and want to enjoy your golden years, worry-free of home maintenance or living alone. It may be that you wish to live closer in proximity to family. Whatever the cause for the need to downsize, Regency Senior Living community is here to help make your transition a comfortable and happy one. 

Organization experts recommend starting with an easy and manageable are to get the momentum started. It’s easy to feel anxious when view as a whole. Be cautious not to panic about level of progress; baby steps are still steps. Keep in mind, it took a lifetime to collect these things, so don’t expect to complete it all in just one day, especially in seniors with health and mobility issues. 

Need some help getting the process started? Here are the top strategies for downsizing spaces in seniors:

Do Not Procrastinate: Downsizing is best when spread out over several weeks or months as opposed to crammed into a short time. Even if it seems there is plenty of time to sort through belongings, it’s never a good idea to wait. Commonly, we underestimate the amount of stuff we own. Just because it doesn’t look like a lot, chances are there is plus the added time it takes to decide what to keep and discard. To help expedite this process, if the transition is planned, consider a yearly spring cleaning and an annual yard sale to scale down. This is a great way to give items a second life and also make a bit of extra spending money.

Accept Hard Decisions: At some point in the decluttering process, you’re going to find yourself in a hard spot and not wanting to let certain items go. Perhaps it’s a family heirloom or a grandchild’s artwork. The decision to discard can sometimes be heartbreaking, however, when downsizing you just can’t keep everything. But in some cases, there are ways to let go without permanent consequence. Pass cherished heirlooms down to family members or close friends for them to continue to cherish. Do you have thousands of finger paintings? It’s natural to feel a sentimental attachment because each one is special and evokes memories of happy times with the grandkids. Instead pick 3-4 of your grandchild’s favorites and frame them. What to do with the others? Don’t trash them, scan them on the computer to preserve each master piece. 

Prioritize: When sorting through personal items it is good to have the mentality that you will only keep less than 50% of belongings. To do this, create three sets of boxes: keep, donate, discard. Go through the process framing your decisions as yes-no questions. Will I use this? Have I used this in over a year? Asking open-ended questions can result in reluctant answers filled with doubt and uncertainty. Be assertive with decisions. 

Successfully answering yes-no questions will allow you to feel successful, giving you the opportunity to move on to the next thing. Easier items to start with include, clothes that no longer fit, books that haven’t been read in ages, and furniture that is rarely ever used, etc. Lifehack suggests discarding anything that does not “spark joy”.

Holding on to or Hoarding?: Beware of behaviors that could indicate hoarding; example: becoming defensive of belongings and their purpose or aggressively refusing to discard the majority of items. There is a distinct difference in holding on to special things and everything, especially in multiples. In assisted living, your parent only needs one frying pan, one coffeemaker, one or two coats, etc. To combat this, measure exactly how much closet or cabinet space the new place allows. With assisted living communities, you can request this information, if not previously provided. Use these parameters as a guide by marking off a space and filling it as you sort. 

Repurpose, Reduce, and Recycle:

When possible, repurpose things to take up far less space with a more efficient method of storage, such as storing loose photos into scrapbooks or preserving a digital copy on the computer. Music and movie collections can now fit onto digital devices or be streamed over online services for easier accessibility. For more tangible items, it is optimal to rent, rather than owning something that rarely is used. Reduce everyday clutter easily by paying bills online and unsubscribing from newspaper or magazines. This helps to discard necessary junk mail from piling up. To repurpose, donate. The local school or library may appreciate boxes full of unused books. Or try selling! Hosting an annual yard sale or listing items on eBay can not only reduce clutter but also raise extra pocket change while sparking a new life to old possessions. When in doubt, find a new home spread among family members and close friends.  If all else fails, recycle. 

Adapt to New Accommodations: Utilize your new space and make it your own! At Regency Retirement Community, we encourage our senior residents to decorate their new apartments with their personal items to help them feel happy in their transition from their previous house to their new home. Whether it is decorative knick-knacks or daily essentials, surrounding ourselves with our “stuff” goes a long way toward settling into a new place. 

Freeing up tangible possessions can present a stress-free lifestyle without all of the worry that comes with personal items. It’s imperative to start decluttering sooner than later so the transition into Assisted Living can be a pleasant and easy process in which valuables transition to the new living situation while other possessions are sold or disposed of. 

For more organizing and downsizing strategies, visit: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/15-9-5-senior-downsizing-tips/