Throughout the decades, it’s anything but difficult to accumulate belonging, yet in the long run at some point we need to scale back. For some seniors, that time is the point at which the kids are older and senior empty nesters need to make the most of their golden years free from stress over home upkeep. Maybe it’s time to move to a Regency Senior Living community so they don’t have to live alone, or because they don’t want to be far from their children and grandchildren.

To do this, often times seniors are left with the need to organize and downsize.

There’s an undeniable skill to organizing. Specialists for example, the journalists at lifehack.org, suggest that seniors focus on a condensed area to get the process started. If not, the procedure can feel overpowering when looking at the bigger picture. The goal is to make progress. If you feel discouraged about your progress, remind yourself that it has taken a lifetime to procure these things, so don’t feel the need to accomplish it all in a day, particularly those with health issues limiting mobility.

A few downsizing tips for seniors and their families:

Try not to Wait
Scaling down is best when it can be spread out over several few weeks or months, rather than in just a few days. Be careful not to put it off. Procrastinating on such a big project as this requires time, even if it seems there is enough time – don’t wait! If the move to an Assisted Living center is unexpected, consider packing the essentials and downsizing a little at a time. If there is more time to plan the big move, a good option for decluttering is hosting a yearly spring cleaning and yard sale. This helps to gradually dispose of unnecessary items around the home, instead of all at once.

Organize
While it may seem easier to bulldoze through everything, the initial step to sorting should begin with three identified zones that can be either given, kept or disposed of. For best results, eliminate the “maybe” pile, as it only leads to confusion and uncertainty. Items that are out of date ought to be the first to go. Additionally, articles of clothing that do not fit anymore, dusty books that have been on the shelf for a long time, furniture that is not used, and the list goes on. When going through belongings, utilize the yes-no method for eliminating clutter, “Do I need 10 winter coats?” A clever trick is to dispose of anything that does not “spark joy”.

Be Sensitive however Make Hard Choices
We often feel a sentimental connection to things, and that’s okay. Discarding things that are meaningful and special to us can be a heart wrenching process. However, when forced to let go of several personal items through downsizing, keep in mind that one individual’s trash is another’s treasure. If the senior is opposed to parting with belongings, a helpful solution may be renting a temporary storage unit so they can cling to the things that would be too difficult to give up. After time, the demand to dispose of belonging settles which should make it easier to let go. Because sometimes the best action to step forward, is to take a step backward.

Reuse When Possible
Consider donating. The nearby school or library may accept donated boxes brimming with classic literature. Or think about selling! Listing collectables or vintage pieces on eBay can help eliminate clutter, as well as spark a new life in old things and some pocket money. Lastly, pass down heirlooms. Allow family or close friends to continue to cherish your most cherished belongings that you can no longer keep.

Know about Hoarding Behavior
If the senior’s personal items are beginning to impair everyday activity and threaten their health or others, it is possible they are suffering from elderly hoarding disorder. There is a difference in collecting select items as opposed to stashing things of little to no value for the reason, “just in case”. Beware of this behavior. A senior whose home has become unsanitary or unsafe, might display side effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In cases like these, it is not uncommon to find garbage spread throughout the house, increasing the risk for falling. Another common side effect is forgetting to take prescribed medications or allowing bills to go unpaid. These indicators are likely to happen as a result of misplacement and confusion. In seniors displaying these behaviors, use extreme caution in the way of which things are disposed, as to not cause additional anxiety. Consult our Memory Care specialists if these symptoms continue or worsen.

Reformat
Whenever possible, repurpose items with a more effective, space-saving method. For example, assemble photographs into a memory book or scan and save them on the computer. This way they are protected and easily accessible. The same technique can be applied to similar items, like music, movies, bank accounts, and bill pay, which can now all be stored online. Adapting to change comes with the territory, especially if you are in the transition of downsizing.

Consolidate Possessions with New Accommodations
At Regency Senior Living, our residents are encouraged to spruce up their own particular apartment with the touch of personal items, which makes for a better transition from a home to an Assisted Living community. Whether that means setting out knickknacks or daily essentials, when we center ourselves around our “stuff”, it can help us feel more at home. At Regency Senior Living Retirement Community, our on-staff Memory Care administrations recommend that seniors keep their beloved belongings in a memory box for safe-keeping.

For more tips on downsizing early and making the move to Assisted Living a seamless process, visit: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/15-9-5-senior-downsizing-tips/