When the time comes to change your older loved one’s living situation, will you and your senior be prepared? Too often, seniors and their family members put off downsizing until faced with a medical emergency, the loss of a spouse, or similar circumstance that necessitates an immediate move. An emergency downsize leaves little time for the emotional and practical demands of sorting through decades of possessions – yet this is a vital senior service.
While reducing and right-sizing the accumulation of a lifetime can be overwhelming for older adults, experts recommend undertaking the tasks of downsizing as a proactive step in the aging process. Many seniors do not want to burden their children with the task of going through all of their belongings when they are no longer able to do so themselves, but getting started can be challenging.
The senior relocation professionals at Lifestyle Management of Colorado advise allowing several months for the downsizing process. Furthermore, we suggest taking on the project of downsizing one room at a time, evaluating items according to the following categories: keep, share, sell, donate, and toss.
Start with the main living areas (kitchen, family room, living room, and master bedroom). Determine what furniture, décor, and housewares will fit if you already know how much space is available in the next living situation. Otherwise, focus on eliminating duplicates and items that haven’t been used in the past year. Use technology to simplify and streamline – digitize family pictures, scan paperwork, or create a keepsake DVD of collectibles.
Rather than waiting to will sentimental and heirloom items to family members and friends, talk with them about anything they may want, and give it to them now! Also be prepared that while formal china and antiques may be near-and-dear to your senior, many adult children and grandchildren may not appreciate these items in the same way. And, artifacts of significant historical value may be better off going to a museum or school than languishing in perpetual storage.
For items of great value, contact estate sale managers, art appraisers, and antique dealers to find the best way to negotiate a sale. However, many household and décor items can be sold via garage and moving sales.
Another option is to donate items in good condition to charities such as the Salvation Army where they can be recycled and reused by those in need. Not only does your senior enjoy the benefit of a tax deduction, but groups such as ARC in Colorado also provide jobs in their thrift stores for people with developmental disabilities.
Unfortunately, one aspect of downsizing with the elderly is there will be a number of items that are beyond their viable use. Moth-eaten sweaters and threadbare rugs are destined for the trash. So are many paper records your senior may have held onto – make sure to shred any old bills or bank statements.
Although you and your senior may be interested in a proactive downsizing plan, your schedules may not always align. Allocating time every week for several months to help your older relatives properly go through their belongings and manage associated activities may be difficult for adult children busy with their own lives, or those who live far apart.
The professionals at Lifestyle Management of Colorado are here to help with this senior service when you are not available to facilitate all the tasks of downsizing with your senior. Not only can we assist your loved one as they sort through items, but we can handle every part of the process from organizing garage sales to packing and delivering donated items to charities. Contact us today to learn more about our Denver senior downsizing and other senior services, and how we can customize a plan to meet your senior’s downsizing needs!