Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Moving at any age can be difficult, but for seniors transitioning from homes they have lived in for decades to much smaller retirement communities, the process can be downright painful. What can make the situation even worse is a spontaneous move brought on by sudden illness or death, which can frazzle seniors and their family members. Luckily, there are quite a few preemptive measures seniors can take that will prevent many of the headaches associated with moving, even under more stressful circumstances.
Even if seniors don’t have any impending plans to move, it is always a good idea to begin to pare down items early. By gradually eliminating unwanted or unused possessions, it will make moving in the future that much easier, especially in case of emergency when a move is foisted upon seniors by unforeseen circumstances. People can begin by sorting through items to be donated, trashed, or given to other family members. Or, for higher-level service, professional organization companies can be hired from $40 to $125 per hour to help with the sorting process.
While selling unwanted items at yard sales is a viable option, keep in mind that potential buyers can be wary of outdated electronics and appliances or worn furniture. A great way to reframe the sale of unwanted items is to call it a “moving sale” rather than a “yard sale,” especially when selling furniture. This can be advertised in the local newspaper and in Craigslist, and posting bright and clear signs in the neighborhood is a good way to attract attention.
Another option to get rid of unwanted items is to donate them. Though organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army may be the first thing one thinks of when it comes to donating items, don’t be afraid to do a little research on local organizations that might need donations like memorabilia, specialty equipment, and glassware. Besides the benefit of being able to claim a tax deduction for donated items, legacy gifts to museums or schools can result in special recognition like plaques for donations.
Getting rid of sentimental items like photographs or collections can be especially trying, but finding creative ways to hold onto memories without keeping unnecessary clutter is important. For those with hundreds or thousands of photographs, making DVDs of the photographs is a space-saving option for those who don’t wish to part with those memories. Additionally, for those who are collectors, it can be useful to keep a couple favorites on hand and photograph the rest to frame and hang as a poster.
Moving is difficult enough as it is, so it is always a good idea to enlist the help of others, especially the children of seniors. It’s important to have those hard conversations about what heirs really want, which items have family significance, and which items may be monetarily valuable. This way excess items aren’t saved and then become the burden of the heirs.
One of the most important aspects of downsizing is having a plan. While there is no prescribed best way to move, a universal piece of advice is the earlier you start, the better. A good rule of thumb is to begin getting rid of items at least one month prior to listing the home for sale. Once committed to getting rid of items, it is best to have a plan. Begin by tackling rooms that are the “heart of the home” like the living room and kitchen, where the most clutter and sentimental items are.
Moving may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Our team has several Seniors Real Estate Specialists® ready to help you with a financially smart and stress-free move. By planning in advance, getting organized, and being thoughtful about how and when to get rid of items, downsizing for seniors can be made much simpler. The Tamara Kucik Team has strong connections with local companies and organizations to make the moving process stress-free. Our experienced team is with you every step of the way and is a valuable asset for your moving needs.