A Place for Everything, LLC
If you or your parents are at the stage of life to consider downsizing, you’ve got a lot of company. Nearly 40 million people in the United States, or 13 percent of the total population, were 65 or older in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
As individuals live longer and families are often geographically dispersed, more elderly adults are faced with the trauma of relocating, often from a place they’ve called home for decades. Every nook and cranny holds special memories. The thought of leaving them behind can be overwhelming.
The good news is that you don’t have to leave your memories behind. But you will need to make choices about what physically goes with you and what mentally stays with you.
It is much easier to start the downsizing process while you are still able to make your own decisions. Downsizing doesn’t get better, or easier, with age. Consider beginning now rather than during a crisis when others will have to make choices for you.
Benefits of proactively downsizing
It’s not too early to start the process
Communicate with the family. Let your family know that you’re ready to start the process. Consult with them and create a plan for family involvement.
Sorting. Identify special “treasures” you want to take with you and those you’re willing to pass along to family members, give to friends, recycle or donate. Some questions to ask:
Keep in mind that you needn’t have a new home picked out to begin the process of paring down household treasures. The greatest legacy you can leave your family is to have your house in order.
Supplies to help get the job done:
Downsizing can seem daunting. It helps to break the process into manageable tasks. For example:
Remove everything from the bureau drawer. Ask yourself the questions above about sorting, then take appropriate action. Organize all items you’re keeping and put them back in the drawer. Create a realistic schedule. Remember that this will get done slowly, but surely.
Continue the process until the master bedroom has been “redefined”. Pat yourself on the back and move on to the next room.
Experts can make downsizing easier
Consider contacting resources such as:
The National Association of Senior Move Managers certifies relocation and transition specialists. A 2008 survey of its members reported that the most popular services are:
In that survey, 96 percent of respondents reports that their clients were downsizing, and that their average job takes 17 to 24 hours to complete. The majority of their clients’ moves are to assisted living communities and independent living communities, followed by active adult communities, continuing care communities and other types of residences.
Remember that whether or not you call on professionals to help you downsize, the job will be easier if done before a crisis. You’ll be able to keep the things that really matter when settling into your new surroundings – and know that some of your treasures are cherished by others. You might even think about the process as rightsizing.
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For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.