You know there are many benefits to your loved one’s upcoming move to an assisted living community. At an assisted living community, your loved one will have the daily support they need to live life to the fullest, without the logistical challenges of home maintenance, cooking and housekeeping. They will also enjoy many more opportunities to engage in activities that promote social, emotional and physical wellness.
But after decades, or even a lifetime, in a family home, there will be many belongings that must be sorted through before the move to a cozier space. Here are tips for downsizing ahead of the move to assisted living.
When To Discuss Downsizing
The time to downsize ahead of the move to a senior living community is different for everyone. However, a move to assisted living generally occurs on an accelerated timeline so that your loved one can get the assistance they require as soon as possible. Your loved one’s current home may be three times the size of the new accommodations, or much less. The more you have to sort through, the longer it will take. That’s why the best time to start downsizing is as soon as possible!
Sorting, packing, organizing and decluttering the things your loved one has acquired over the years can be a bittersweet experience for everyone involved. In addition, moving to an assisted living community may be a big change, and the logistics around the process can be stressful. Now is the time to plan ahead, practice patience and take it a step at a time.
Plan Ahead and Don’t Procrastinate
Scrambling to pack and relocate a lifetime of belongings can add to the stress of a transition to assisted living. Make sure you have ample time to strategize your downsizing process. Work with friends and family and even third party organizers or sellers to create a downsizing plan. How many rooms need to be gone through? How much do you anticipate will need to be given away or thrown out? Getting a rough estimate of this early on will help you later.
Be Patient and Understanding
Downsizing may bring up many different emotions. Try to make this process as relaxed and laid back for your loved one. It’s a necessary step for moving on to the next chapter in life. Reminisce as you go through sentimental items with them or sort through boxes of photos and memorabilia.
Since this process can be emotionally draining, spend a maximum of two hours a day packing, sorting and decluttering, and take breaks as needed.
Begin With Non-Sentimental Items
Deliberating on meaningful items can take a lot of time and emotional energy. To ease into the downsizing process, start with decluttering. Go through each room with your parent and throw away any trash.
Toss old toiletries, expired medications and old food. Shred unneeded receipts, canceled checks or outdated documents. Documents that need to be saved but don’t require a physical copy can be digitized to save space. Purge closets and donate items that no longer fit or which haven’t been used in over a year. Put important forms, like identification documents, diplomas, deeds, wills, medical records and more in a file cabinet or safe deposit box.
Tackle the downsizing process room by room, starting with the easiest room first. Before helping your loved one pack, categorize each item with color-coordinated tags:
- Green tags: Definitely keep. These are “must have” items that should be transferred to the new space.
- Yellow tags: Possibly keep. These are belongings that your loved one needs more time to think about. Sometimes it can be faster to move forward if you have a “further consideration” category.
- Blue tags: Give away, donate or sell. As you go, make a list of any things your loved one wants to bequeath to a friend or family member, or simply donate. Donations can be brought to a local thrift store or given to Habitat for Humanity or The Salvation Army, which both offer free donation pick-up services. Many donations are tax deductible, so be sure to save your donation receipts. Valuable items can be sold by third-party auction houses or simply added to a yard sale.
- Red tags: Discard. Items that won’t be valuable or useful to someone else.
Once you’ve sorted through every room, complete any final measurements to ensure that everything your loved one has chosen to save will fit in the new space. The “keep” pile may require one or two more passes before this happens.
Explore Assisted Living Options at Newcastle Place
Moving to a senior living community can help your loved one have a more vibrant and fulfilling retirement. With thoughtful services and amenities – like delicious chef-prepared meals, on-site health services, enriching events and more, Newcastle Place is here to help your loved one thrive.
Contact us today to schedule a tour.