Downsizing Yourself, Relocating a Loved One? Where Do You Begin?

What I hear most often in my professional life is “where do I begin?” This question resonates throughout my conversations with seniors downsizing or moving to independent living, families facing relocating a parent or loved one and unfortunately sometimes from a grief stricken spouse or adult child. Assessing, placing, moving, selling and sorting the things we have accumulated over a lifetime, can be a daunting task no matter what your individual situation. Here are some general tips and a few ideas that I have picked up in my business that may help make the transition easier.

Relocating Your Loved One or Sorting Through Things Left Behind?

Begin by taking a deep breath and realizing that you are going to try and make the best out of what might be a difficult or first time situation. If you need to keep a detailed report for yourself or other family members take pictures or notes of items in the home at the very beginning of this process.

You will want to go through the home and begin to sort what your family members need to take if relocating. What you need to give away or pass down to other family members. What you need to throw away or donate and what is left that you can sell to help financially. The sorting and selling of personal items, furniture, etc., left in the home can be time consuming, so decide who is going to help you with this process.

After you have removed and/or sold the personal items, furniture, etc., you can begin to clean and stage the home for sale and decide what method best meets your needs and your families.

If you are moving a family member into assisted living facility try and set up at least one area of their new surroundings to resemble their former home. Keep as much familiarity as you can in their sleeping room, focusing on having them wake up to the same pictures, mementos, books, etc. that they always have. It can be comforting as they adjust to their new surroundings.

If you are moving a loved one to larger surroundings that include a living and/or kitchen area, try to mimic the same set-up they had previously. This can be as simple as placing coffee cups where they always were in the kitchen, facing a chair toward a wall picture they looked upon for years or placing photo albums in an easily accessible area for them. It is understandable that you may have much less room and items to work with, but sometimes a few well chosen things can make all the difference to your loved one.

Considering Downsizing Yourself Sometime in the Near Future?

First and foremost, pat yourself on the back for pre-planning and thinking ahead. You are way ahead of the game because you are not working in crisis mode.

Start to declutter with the number one source of clutter – PAPER! Buy a shredder and place it by your entry door and shred unneeded mail as soon as you bring it in. A key in your decluttering phase is to stop bringing anything else into the home that you don’t absolutely need. Stop unwanted junk mail by contacting Direct Marketing Association,

If you have things that you cannot take to your new home, but were planning to leave later to family or friends, go ahead and give it to them. Why wait? You will be able to see them enjoying something of yours that means a lot to you.

Closets are a must to begin tackling as soon as possible. The old age rule applies, if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it! Decide if it is wearable by someone else and if so donate it to Goodwill. If you have big ticket clothing items such as coats, evening wear or suits that are in good condition, I would suggest trying an upscale consignment store. Make some cash; don’t leave them hanging in the closet.

If you are further along in your decision to downsize, use your new floor plan to decide what furniture you can take with you. Then take a look at unneeded furniture, appliances, bedding, knickknacks, books, etc. that you have left. Decide what is sellable or have a professional come in to help you, then take a look at what method of selling best meet your needs, manpower and timeline. Don’t put this crucial step off until the last minute; you don’t want to be selling, moving and packing all at the same time!

No matter what your situation or when you decide to tackle this downsizing task for yourself or a loved one, remember keep calm and don’t procrastinate! It is a task that can be done with focus, a plan of action and sometimes a little help.

Best to you and your family,

Carol Lynn Vrana, Senior Downsizing Specialist, Poinsett Auction & Realty Senior Services Division,, (864) 787-6973