Tips for Downsizing and Decluttering Before Your Transition to Senior Living

When it comes to the sentimentally meaningful, non-essential items that clutter our drawers and litter our shelves, the old adage tends to apply: you can’t take it with you.

Downsizing when you make the decision to leave your private home and move into a senior housing community can be difficult. It’s not just the physical labor of organizing and decluttering that can take a toll, but the emotional burden of sometimes saying goodbye to items you’ve accumulated over a lifetime.

Plus, there are so many decisions, from what should be passed down to your children, relatives and friends, to what should be sold or donated to a secondhand store or charity, to what should be thrown away or go into storage. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for when your personal items begin to feel more like a burden than a precious memory.

Start off slow

Begin the downsizing process by brainstorming how much time you’ll need based on the amount of stuff you have. Then gather everything into a spot in each room, emptying out drawers, closets and storage areas. It’s also helpful to confirm the size of the space you’re moving to. This way, you can measure for furniture and also imagine which items will be of greatest use to you there.

Create separate item categories

After placing everything into piles, divide your memorabilia into specific groups, beginning with the easiest items to categorize, like those that are broken or damaged. It’s also important to develop a set of goals. Without clear goals and parameters, it can be difficult to set limits on yourself, so think about trying to reduce the amount of stuff in each room by certain percentage. Make sure to focus on one item group at a time and label each pile so you know where each is meant to go.

Ask for help if you need it

It’s always a good idea to have another pair of eyes to go on your decluttering journey with you. But besides teaming up with a trusted friend or objective family member, who else could help? You can find a certified professional organizer by contacting NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, or reach out to an appraiser to help you sell an item, like a collection or an antique you think may be valuable. You can even take pictures of items yourself and email them to prospective buyers.

Try to appreciate the journey

It’s helpful to think of the decluttering process as a voyage through your long and wonderful life, rather than a plundering of your past. Reminisce about the good times and share your memories with your decluttering partner. Make sure to limit each organization session to a few hours so you don’t get too worn out. And try to operate from a place of curiosity: this can be a valuable time to reevaluate what you’ll need for your life’s next stage. And if you’re not ready to get rid of something now, it’s ok — just put it aside for the moment.

One Wingate Way is a luxury independent living community located on a full continuum of care campus. Residents enjoy full autonomy—with access to state-of-the-art amenities and concierge services. Even if care needs change, we can help our residents transition to the right living option without having to relocate. Interested in learning more? Click here to contact our team at One Wingate Way today—we’d love to answer any of your questions!