The thought of relocating or ever leaving a loving house filled with ups and downs, memories, and laughter can be a dilemma for most seniors. It is not an easy task and can give rise to turbulence due to the lack of organization and control, financial strain, unexpected setbacks, and rushed decisions.
However, after much hassle and tribulation come the blessings. Downsizing and decluttering in retirement has shown to bring surprising benefits for seniors when they lose the ability to care for themselves, let alone home maintenance that needs to be done from year to year. It reduces clutter and allows your parents to thrive in a safer and stress-free environment while cutting down the living costs to a minimum.
Find our 9 best downsizing and decluttering tips for seniors to make your parents’ tough time easier and transform their living space.
Useful Tips to Downsize and Declutter Your Parents’ Home
9 Useful Tips for Downsizing and Decluttering for Seniors
Here are some tips and suggestions you can consider to make your parents’ transition more smoothly.
Open for Discussion
Everybody loves surprises, but receiving a last-minute notice about making forever changes to years-long possessions can stir up overwhelming emotions and anxiety in your parents. Although your parents are now semi-dependent on you, remember that they still deserve respect.
Sparking the moving conversation in advance is an excellent way to make sure everyone is on the same page and that your parents feel comfortable when making such a big decision. Be mindful of other factors before voicing your opinions on the matter. For instance, your parents may receive the news with a not-so-positive attitude if they are under treatment for a critical medical condition, which could cause them to grow hesitant or resistant towards the idea of moving out. Remember to offer your assistance and help them set realistic goals.
Much like every process, moving is always much easier if you start crafting a plan in advance. Although there is no perfect time to begin the downsizing and decluttering process, consider discussing the move with your parents and family members approximately 1-2 months prior. A stepwise relocation plan allows you and your family to assess and finalize the best solutions and make in-time adjustments if needed.
Since packing can take longer than anticipated, early planning gives spare time for emergencies. For better organization, set tentative dates for the following steps:
- Decluttering and downsizing
- Estate sales, trash pick-ups, and charity pick-ups
- Moving day
- Unpacking and setting up
Take Your Time
Your parents might need lots of time to identify unwanted items and figure out what to do with them next. Even if donations are always more than welcome by Goodwill, NGOs, or charity groups, keep in mind that they can be very selective when taking in donations. Touching base with them is a good starting point to ensure all items go to the right people, not end up in landfills.
Create a Decluttering System
As you begin decluttering and downsizing, your parent’s opinions and input should be valued every step of the way. Understandably, going back and forth and asking them what they want to do with their items can be inconvenient. Creating a system of letting go, such as “to donate,” “for sale,” or “to keep,” doesn’t only remove unnecessary items but also minimizes your parents’ attachment to their years-long, cherished items.
Start Small and Simple
When decluttering, the most straightforward way is to tackle room by room, starting with the most frequently used room: the living room and the kitchen. Since the cooking area has essential items that your parents might need to use immediately after moving, start working your way from small kitchen utensils and then move on to other areas of the house, such as the garage, attic, basement, and bedrooms.
Dispose of Duplicates
Disposing of duplicates or unwanted items is another step of decluttering. Of course, your parents will not need three spatulas or ten identical tees in different colors. But before giving them all away, be sure to ask for permission from your parents first since they may be having a hard time parting with their prize possessions, even if these items seem to cost nothing to you.
To prevent headaches, help your parents pick out 3-5 favorite things of each category before selling the rest at a garage sale or donating them to charities or Goodwill.
Secure Prized Possessions
One sure thing is that decluttering the entire house can get messy and hectic. If your parents are collectors or have sentimental items or pieces of furniture they are unwilling to let go of, consider renting a storage space or relocating them to your basement or garage during this time. Another benefit of this tip is that fewer items make the house more spacious and more desirable for buyers when on sale.
Put a Label on It!
A labeling system can be your lifesaver when it comes to unpacking. Nobody wants to open a box only to discover it doesn’t carry the items they are looking for. That’s why creating a labeling system can simplify the unpacking process by allowing you to identify the contents of each box beforehand and move them to the correlating rooms or areas.
Connect with a Professional
Talking to a professional is one of the senior downsizing tips you might want to look into, especially if you are not too familiar with the concept of downsizing and decluttering or have no time to execute each step alone. A downsizing professional can assess your needs and provide tips and suggestions for a smooth transition.
Why Is Downsizing in Retirement a Good Idea?
In addition to better navigation and enhanced living space, here are some reasons why your parent should consider decluttering and downsizing as they age:
- More Health: Health improvement is one of the reasons why downsizing could be worth all the efforts. A spacious, 2-story house, a great, thriving place for a family of 5 or 6, can become inconvenient for seniors with frailer joints. Keeping your parents’ living space minimal can significantly reduce their fall risks and give them greater ease of movement when navigating the new place.
- More Time: Moving to a smaller house means your parents no longer have to deal with daily household chores, hence more leisure time. With more time on their hands, your parents can spend the time saved doing things their hearts desire, from cooking nutritious meals, visiting friends and going for a walk to traveling, joining senior activities, working on craft projects, etc.
- More Money: Another advantage of downsizing is more financial security. A smaller house consumes less energy, so utility bills are also likely to shrink. Since your parents can no longer clean the whole house, they might hire part-time cleaners to keep it pristine and tend its yard and landscape. The problem is that housekeeping services can chip away at their savings. With less house maintenance and lower utility expenses, they can save more money for rainy days or invest in things that better accommodate their aging, such as meal deliveries, home modifications, and assistive equipment and devices.
Reductions in mortgage and property taxes are another unexpected benefit of downsizing. Selling unnecessary items and belongings can be a huge plus for boosting your parents’ retirement funds and savings.
- More Convenience: One of many downsizing benefits is convenience, coming down to each senior’s personal needs. For example, your parents may prefer living close to parks if going for a walk is their favorite. Still, others may find it better to reach hospitals or medical facilities within walking distance.
If you have questions about downsizing and decluttering for seniors or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG
Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.