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Downsizing and Moving Tips

You’ve done your research and made your decision. You’re ready to move to a senior living community – you can’t wait to give up house chores for a maintenance free lifestyle.

But there’s one big chore you must complete first – declutter your current home and make the move.

The idea can be so overwhelming, it may be paralyzing – where do you even start decluttering a lifetime’s worth of belongings and memories?

Here are a few suggestions, not only to get you started but help see you through to the other side, in your new home.

Start downsizing now

Even if you’re still finalizing details about your new home, it’s a good idea to start thinking and making decisions about what will stay and what will go. You want to start early enough to give yourself time to make decisions when you’re not stressed. Downsizing is a process – not a one-time event. It can be emotional, even sad so allow yourself time to honor your feelings.

Start with the easy stuff – get rid of duplicates in the kitchen or bathroom, from too many pots and pans to old towels and sheets. Get rid of junk mail, old newspapers and magazines and anything broken.

Once that’s done, start considering items you’re not sure about. With the knowledge that you can’t keep everything, create a list of everything you want to take with you…then, pare it down. Ask yourself some tough questions such as:

• When was the last time I used this item?

• Will this item fit in my new home?

• Can I easily replace this items?

While making these decisions, envision your new home and its layout. Do you know where you’ll put your furniture and other big items? Will you have enough closet space for seasonal items?

Also consider the amenities in your new community. Will you use the fitness center? If so, you could get rid of your exercise equipment that’s taking up too much space.

Finally, you can move on to sentimental items, collectibles, and family heirlooms. What are you willing to part with? This may be a good time to gift any items to your children, grandchildren, other relatives, or friends. Invite them over for a day to go through anything that you believe they might want. But if they don’t want something, let it go.

To avoid becoming confused when you’re ready to pack, document what you have that you want to move with you. Take inventory of everything, from paperwork to your clothes, to pictures and decorations. You can even take photos of areas in your house that you’d like to recreate in your new home.

By the end of the decluttering process, you should have identified what you’re keeping, and you should have a pile of items that you can either donate or just toss. If you have lots of things to donate, make appointments for charity pickups. Having a deadline will help keep you on track.

Before you start packing

You’ve done a lot of hard work up to this point – you got rid of a lot of items and packing seems more manageable now.

But before you start, make sure you get organized.

Organize all your personal records and important documents and put them in a safe place that you can easily find. These are things like your will, power of attorney documents, taxes, military records, birth certificates and passports. Do them same with all your medications.

Gather your packing supplies – boxes, packing tape, and bubble wrap. You may also want to get some color-coded stickers so you can label your boxes by room and by content. It will make it easier to unpack in your new home.

Make some decisions ahead of time:

• Will you hire movers? It may be worth considering a senior move manager. These experts are experienced in moving seniors from home to home. They are specifically trained in safety and ethics and can help you declutter and move with dignity.

• Will your family members help your pack and unpack? It may be a good idea to assign jobs, so everyone knows what’s expected of them.

• What are the last things to pack before moving?

• What will be the first things to unpack in your new home? Label those boxes with “Open First.”

Ready to pack and move

When you’re ready to start packing, tackle one room at a time, starting with the rooms that hold the least used items. This will help you gain some momentum, and the entire packing project will seem more manageable.

Gradually you’ll be able to pack more commonly used items. The week before your move, pack an “essentials” box. It should contain anything you might need in the first days after your move such as: medications, a few clothes and shoes, toiletries, towels, sheets and blankets, phone charges, dishes and silverware, and any important appliances such as your coffeemaker or tea kettle.

On moving day, you should be able to direct your movers and any other helpers and then go room by room looking for any forgotten items.

Besides all the packing and lifting, by now you should have already taken care of any notifications that your address is changing. Make sure you complete a change of address with the post office, your banks, credit card companies, Medicare and social security, and insurance companies. You also want to notify any utility companies about when to discontinue service.

Although downsizing and moving can be stressful events, they can also be the beginning of a simpler, calmer life. Once all the hard work is done, you’ll be able to settle into your new community, make new friends and enjoy spending your day doing the things you like to do.

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