Our belongings tell the story of our lives, and as we age our collection continues to grow. However, in the words of Robert Frost, “nothing gold can stay” and there comes a point where we must prioritize those belongings most meaningful and let go of the rest. This is especially true when it comes to the transition to senior living. This is an integral transition in the lives of many, allowing them to open an exciting and fulfilling new chapter. It also requires some important decisions in terms of belongings. These decisions should not be made lightly, but they must be made nonetheless. Helping your loved one downsize can be a challenging process, but approaching it with grace and understanding can go a long way in achieving the end goal while avoiding alienation and instead revisiting cherished memories along the way. Below are 3 tips for helping your loved one downsize prior to a move to senior living.
1. Stay Positive
It is important to keep in mind all of the benefits that a transition to senior living entails. While the space may be reduced, the potential for a fulfilled life only grows. If you are helping your loved one downsize, try and emphasize this theme as opposed to what is being lost. It can also be helpful to view the downsizing process in a positive light and use it as an opportunity to celebrate memories rather than simply a procedural elimination of items. Ask questions about how items were obtained, reflect on the memories surrounding items, and take pictures of those that will not be kept so they can live on in spirit.
2. Review Floor Plans
Ideally, senior living communities will feature the floor plans of their apartments or units on their websites. If not, it is advisable to contact them directly for copies of their floor plans. This will help you determine which pieces of furniture will fit within the unit and which can be sold or donated. It will also allow you to plan for the amount of available storage space so that you and your loved one can identify which belongings the new living situation can reasonably accommodate.
3. Take It Slow
Rushing the downsizing process can make it feel mechanical and impersonal, and it can lend to the overall sense of anxiety your loved one may experience. Take things room by room so that you can dedicate adequate time to each item and area. Create piles such as “give,” “toss,” “donate,” and “revisit.” The “revisit” pile creates a safe place for items they are on the fence about keeping, allowing them to address them during the initial sweep without forcing them into an immediate decision on the spot. The more time you can dedicate to the downsizing process ahead of the move, the better.
Downsizing may seem like an overwhelming task, but for many it proves to be an exciting and liberating process that allows them to revisit cherished memories while freeing themselves of items that may have been weighing them down. If you have more questions about downsizing or would like to learn more about a faith-based non-profit CCRC, contact Inland Christian Home today.