Moving from a home that you have “built up” for many years is never an easy circumstance to face. As you get older, though, sometimes the daily tasks of keeping up your house become more and more of a nuisance: A winter of shoveling out the driveway can take a toll on your knees and back. Heating (or cooling!) a drafty, old house isn’t budget-friendly, and is it really practical for one or two people to rattle around a 5-bedroom house?
These little things slowly start to add up to a major impracticality, and many savvy older adults start to consider rightsizing their lives and moving to an apartment in a senior community. But even after you’ve made the decision to move, packing up can still be a difficult task.
But here at Deupree House, we have years of experience helping seniors just like you scale down their lives to more manageable proportions. Here are a few tips that can help make your transition into a senior apartment community much smoother.
1. Start Early
When you’ve lived in one place for most of your life, things just tend to pile up. Packing up a house can often feel like an insurmountable task when you have to downsize as well, but things can be much less stressful if you start early and slowly sort and pack a little at a time.
2. Make Three Piles
Tackle your downsizing room by room to keep things more manageable. For each room establish three categories—keep, undecided, and not keeping—and create piles, bins, or blankets where you can place items after they have been sorted.
Do your sorting quickly; try to decide where something should go within 30 seconds so that you don’t overthink things. If you can decide within a minute or two, put the object in the maybe pile.
Senior apartments can be very spacious, but they will likely not be as big as the space that you have been accustomed to, so be realistic about what you really need while you are sorting. Throw away any item that is broken or has stains on it. Food items, plastic containers, magazines, and contents of junk drawers should also be tossed. Keep only those things that you absolutely cannot bear to part with or you know you will use on a regular basis. If you had intended to give your special china or rarely-worn jewelry to someone in the future now may be a good time to give it to them.
One of the most difficult things to let go of is pictures. Consider keeping your favorites and putting them in an album or two. The rest of the pictures may be enjoyed by whoever is in the picture, such as your son, daughter or other family member.
When have finished sorting, and decided what to do with your maybes, pack up the things you mean to keep and move on to the next room.
3. Donate or Sell
Donating or having a sale is a great idea—especially if you’re moving into your new apartment in the summer—and a great way to make a little extra money. There are so many that would appreciate the items that you no longer need. These items will find a new home with someone who is in need and cannot afford to buy them at full price. It may also help to know that your items are being used by someone else who will care for them as you did.
4. Enlist the Help of Others
Even after you’ve pared down your belongings, packing up what remains is no small feat. Although most people do not appreciate others going through their belongings, having friends and family around to help will make things so much easier for you. Just make sure that you have provided clear instructions as to how you want things packed.