It's definitely not hard to acquire stuff throughout the years, yet over time there comes a peak moment when we need to rid our home of clutter and downsize into a smaller space. For most adults, that time happens when our children mature and have a family of their own, or perhaps it’s a result from a healthcare related issue.
For seniors considering decluttering, it may allow you to:
The top 10 dos and don’ts in downsizing:
1. DO NOT Wait
Spread the downsizing process out more than just a few days or even weeks. If time permits, begin at least 6-8 months in advance instead of trying to to make the difficult decisions of letting go in a shorter period of time. Also, be mindful with of your time; even though it may seem as if there is plenty of it – there never is, especially in those with a disability.
2. DO Plan
The professionals at lifehack.org advise thoughtfully planning out before jumping in head first. Take baby steps with identified zones to before beginning the long road to downsizing. For example, plan to start in the closet with old clothes, shoes, and accessories that are never worn.
3. DO NOT Panic
Taking on a big project like this in full can easily start to feel overwhelming when looking at the big picture. Remind yourself that it has taken years to accumulate personal belongings, so the likelihood of finishing in just one day is just not realistic.
4. DO Prioritize
Belongings should be sorted into different 3 identified boxes, labeled as keep, donate, and discard. To prioritize, things that are outdated should be the first to go. For example, books that haven't been read in quite a while, furniture that is never used, et cetera. Strategists from Lifehack suggests discarding anything that does not “spark joy”.
5. DO Make Hard Choices
It’s normal to feel nostalgic about certain items that remind us of fond memories. It’s also normal to feel heartbroken and guilty when disposing of things that are special to us. While it is an extraordinarily difficult time letting these possessions go, remember that one individual's trash is another person's treasure. For making these difficult decisions, use the yes-no method. Simply ask yourself, “Do I really need 10 winter coats?” or “Will I use 3 frying pans?” This step helps the flow of sorting while remaining neutral and concise.
6. DO NOT Create a “Maybe” Pile
This unnecessary 4th pile is a dangerous one. This gray space is where we start to question ourselves, letting doubt come between our progress. The solution? Ask yourself if you have used the item within a year. If not, chances are you won’t again.
7. DO Adapt
Most people prefer to age in place, however, depending on the situation this may not be an option for some seniors. The key is to adapt. Flexibility is crucial when it comes to extreme changes, especially when downsizing. For example, learn to part with belongings that take up too much space, like the never disheveled stack of loose photos. Adapt by scanning them onto the computer to keep them preserved and easily accessed. The same can be applied to music and movies with modern technology devices like Netflix, Spotify, and Apple Tv.
8. DO Repurpose and Recycle
Do consider donating, reusing, and recycling. The neighboring homeless shelters would much appreciate your closet full of unused winter coats. Need some extra pocket change? Post items online, such as eBay or Craigslist. If you have the time, host a garage sale. These methods can lessen the mess in your home and also give a second life to older items.
9. DO NOT Hoard
A senior whose living space has become unsanitary, hazardous, or unable to function may show symptoms of an elderly hoarding disorder Be between being something of a pack rat saving things for a stormy day instead of saving and assembling things that are used, broken, chaotic or of no regard. Gatekeepers may find stores of decline or waste spread all through the house, which makes a dangerous risk for tripping and falling.
10. DO Be Sensitive
If the senior is showing hoarding behaviors, this could be a symptom of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Take note of sudden mood changes, forgetting to take prescribed medications, or letting bills go unpaid. Be sensitive towards seniors struggling to remember. They may start to feel attacked, defensive, or confused when disposing of their things. Patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s should be moved to our Regency Memory Care facility for their daily assisted needs.
It's imperative to start decluttering now, so the move to your new home at Regency Assisted Living can be as fluid of a transition as possible. For more information on downsizing, see tips at http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/15-9-5-senior-downsizing tips/
“Keeping baggage from the past will leave no room for the happiness in the future” – Wayne L. Misner
Written by: Katie Hanley