Making the decision to move into an assisted living community is a big one, and it can have life-changing consequences. For many seniors, the decision comes after retirement, when aging-in-place is no longer an option due to health concerns. While moving into a community relieves seniors of the need to keep up with cleaning, expenses, and hazards such as steep staircases, it can be an emotionally trying time as well. Going through decades’ worth of belongings that hold sentimental value can be tough, and trying to decide what to part with is, too.
If you are a senior who has recently made the decision to downsize, or if you have a loved one who is considering it, there are several things you can do to make the transition easier. Having support is essential, whether it’s from friends and family or from a therapist, and making sure the new place is comfortable, safe, and can be filled with favorite items is also important.
Read on for the best ways to downsize in preparation for moving into an assisted living facility.
Think About Your Needs
Over time, we tend to accumulate lots of belongings. If you’ve lived in the same house for many years, you may be overwhelmed when you start going through your things to pare down. In order to make it easier, start by decluttering and organizing every room in your house. By removing the clutter and organizing the remaining items, you will make the job of packing much easier. Get helpful tips on room-by-room decluttering and organizing here.
Next, start packing one room at a time and have supplies like boxes, tape, pen and paper, a thick marker, and trash bags handy to make the job go faster. Separate everything into piles or have boxes/bags available in different areas for things you want to keep, things you want to throw away, things you want to donate, and things you can sell. You’ll have to make some hard decisions about what to bring to the new house, and it helps to think about not only how much space you’ll have, but whether you will actually use some of those things. For instance, if you have large pieces of antique furniture, consider whether they’ll be beneficial to you or just get in the way.
It might be helpful to have a friend or loved one helping you, writing down the things you’re taking to the new place and packing them with like items. When a box is full, tape the packing list to the outside and move it to a separate area. Staying organized is key.
Don’t Make Hasty Decisions
You may feel pressured to make quick decisions about what to take, but don’t be hasty when it comes to giving up the things you truly treasure. Sentimental belongings can help you hold onto memories and good times. If you can’t find a reason to bring it along but aren’t sure you want to give it up, consider renting a storage unit or asking a family member to hold onto it for you.
Do Some Homework
Being knowledgeable about your new home will help you make decisions about what to move, so visit the assisted living facility and take some measurements to ensure your belongings will fit. It’s also not a bad idea to meet your neighbors and find out the ins and outs of the facility, as well. Having a map of the area might be helpful if you don’t have GPS in your car, or you can download a local maps app on your smartphone that will keep you from getting lost.
Get to know your new home by visiting often before the move, if possible. Drive around the neighborhood and get a feel for where the restaurants, coffee shops, hospitals, and grocery stores are so you’ll feel more at home after the move; this will help you move forward more easily.
Written by guest author Karen Weeks
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