At Century Park we understand that one of the most difficult challenges for seniors looking to move into a senior living community may be downsizing. Downsizing is the act of getting rid of items that have collected over the years that may not have a place in a new home. This can be an emotional process for our residents, so we work to provide them the resources they need to make this transition as simple as possible. Erica Starich, a representative from Senior Move Coordinators and guest speaker at Cherry Creek Retirement Center, shares her wisdom on how to successfully downsize your stuff and upsize your living.
Downsizing is a word that can instantly bring a sense of being overwhelmed upon people, especially those who are about to embark on a transition from a home in which they’ve created a lifetime of memories to a much smaller residence. It’s a realization that it’s time to part with items accumulated over the years, and it’s a time to re-evaluate what is important right now.
Start with the three Ds of downsizing for the sorting process - diamonds, donate and dispose.
Diamonds – items that bring us joy. They are precious to us, and we want to keep them, but just like diamonds, they are more rare. They don’t include everything that we like, rather, these are the things we love. It’s time to enjoy the finer things in life.
Donate – Some items are no longer used and would be great to pass along to someone else. Items such as board games, extra kitchenware, clothes not worn in the past two years, extra sets of sheets (keep only the highest thread count). Think of your favorite charity for donation – don’t forget food pantries and animal shelters.
Dispose – Other items are simply broken, have holes or cracks, are expired and trash. Remember that chemicals, TVs, mattresses and old prescriptions require special recycling, and documents may need to be shredded.
The next step is creating a timeline for the downsizing process. As overwhelm can quickly set in, it is recommended to break down the sorting into layers. Whether that be room-by-room, a closet in a room or even a drawer in a room, the key is to just get started. As you evaluate an item, decide which category the items falls into and have a box ready for donate and have a garbage bag ready for disposal.
Know that this feeling of being overwhelmed can be turned around into a feeling of release. It is a time to simplify and redistribute items to new homes where someone else can enjoy what you once enjoyed. It is a time to cherish the memories, be thankful for those experiences and know that you are about to create new memories. You will have more time and energy for the things you enjoy.
The more time you have for the downsizing process, the better. However, if this is a sudden event or something that is just too much to take on yourself, consider bringing in a third party such as a senior move manager. The National Association of Senior Move Managers has a directory seniors can use to find the right fit for their move. Visit their website to find a manager near you - nasmm.org/. These specialists have the compassion needed to help sort through your belongings, yet not the emotional attachment. They also have all the resources needed to help with finding new homes for your items. They also have the resources to help if your downsize transition is across the country.