One of the most daunting tasks seniors may encounter when deciding to move into a senior living community is “downsizing.” Many seniors are unable to take all of their belongings with them to their new place of residence, and it can be difficult to decide what to keep. Conflict may arise between children and parents while deciding what is worth keeping and what needs to go.
The parents think of their belongings as special–having a history and holding sentimental value–while their kids may see only junk taking up space and causing a headache. This can cause stress for both seniors and their loved ones.
While it may be difficult, there are ways to mitigate these debates, and the process of downsizing can ultimately be rewarding.
First, let’s look at some of the benefits of downsizing, and then ways to make the process easier.
Seniors might think something along the lines of “I’ve lived in my house for 65 years. How can I get rid of my things?”
One of the benefits of moving into a smaller living space is less upkeep and maintenance. Time that would previously be spent vacuuming around unused furniture and dusting every trinket and bauble is freed up for more enjoyable activities. In a senior living community, there is plenty of opportunity to socialize, take classes, exercise, and more.
Downsizing can also help seniors save money by eliminating expenses that come with maintaining a larger home, such as property taxes, utility bills, and maintenance costs.
There are also benefits such as increased safety and accessibility. Some seniors may have trouble getting up the stairs in their own homes, for instance. By reducing clutter and creating a well-organized, smaller space, the prevalence of accidents decreases.
This is not to minimize the difficulty of deciding what to keep. These are tough decisions. It might help seniors going through this process to remember that they are entering an exciting new chapter in their life. Some material sacrifices may be necessary, but a whole new world of opportunities is opening up for them.
Here are some practical tips for downsizing:
First, start as early as possible before the move into a senior living community. This allows seniors to not feel rushed in making decisions about what to keep, give to family members, or donate.
Children of seniors should encourage them to make a list to help prioritize essentials. Things like furniture and clothing are obvious choices, but some keepsakes which hold a great amount of sentimental value should be included as well.
A good way to start is to create a sorting system. Sort items into groups such as “keep,” “donate,” “sell,” or throw away. This systemized process can make the task of choosing what to keep less overwhelming.
As previously mentioned, seniors and their families may clash during this process. Patience is required. There are services designed to help with this situation. One example is Gentle Transitions, a franchise company that helps families through this process. There are other organizations like this as well. Their job is to sit with your parents, hold their hands, and make suggestions.
They may help your loved one to make a list of what’s truly important to them. People often hold onto things out of habit. Often, we find that after 65 years of living in a big house, seniors realize that they don’t even use most of it. Discarded items can be donated to Goodwill or auctioned off on eBay. You might also want to have a garage sale.
The holiday season in particular is a great time to begin sorting through belongings. This is the time of year when people pull out the decorations, Christmas dishes, and a lot of other things they realize they haven’t thought about in a year. The holidays are a sentimental time, so it may be good to reflect on what items are actually meaningful.
If you are no longer planning on hosting large gatherings, or decorating a whole house, it may be unnecessary to hold on to certain items–both seasonal ones, and others you encounter in the cellar or attic while searching for the menorah or an artificial tree. Whichever holiday you’re celebrating, the dawning of a new year is a great time to start fresh.
Overall, the process of downsizing helps ease one’s transition into their new living space. Unburdened by so many old and often unused possessions, there is a chance to start anew. Ultimately, it can be a freeing process that brings a greater appreciation for the things one does truly cherish.
My grandmother lives at the Ventura Townehouse and I feel confident that she is in good hands. They get her to her appointments and provide any aftercare that she may need. Everyone there is friendly and like family. I feel like I’m at home when I go there to visit her and eat with her in the dining room.
Recently, I visited my Mom from Chicago. Each day I offered to take us out and about in Ventura. We found ourselves having such an enjoyable time at the Townehouse we didn’t leave. The dining room was so lovey to enjoy with her friends. Patios welcoming and the activities kept us busy. We laughed and had fun all day! Thank you everyone for making me feel at home and making my visit special. It’s always hard to leave my mom. But not as hard when I know she is so happy! Until my next visit!
Staff is very helpful and always concerned about my Mother’s needs, the interior and grounds maintenance is exceptional. Dining provides healthy menus to choose from. Front desk staff is always friendly and helpful. Best decision we ever made was bringing my mom here.