The Art of Letting Go: Downsizing Made Easy

Getting rid of longtime possessions isn’t easy; it can feel like giving up cherished memories. For many seniors, beginning the downsizing process feels good knowing that they have some control over ‘who gets what,’ and having peace of mind that a new generation will value their treasured belongings.

If you’re starting to downsize or helping a senior family member, consider these tips:

Set Realistic Expectations. Give yourself a realistic timeline. Try to limit downsizing activities to a few hours per day. And, remember to be patient with your partner or parent. Going through a lifetime worth of “stuff” can stir up emotions—take a few moments to acknowledge those feelings!

Plan ahead. Regardless if you’re moving or aging in place, it’s never too early to downsize. Begin by getting rid of expired medications, clothes that don’t fit, and other unused items.

Ask for help. Downsizing requires some tough decisions. You don’t need to do it alone.

Sorting. It’s best to create three piles: keep, sell and donate. Have a yard sale but remember items you plan to sell, regardless of how “top notch” the condition is, aren’t going to fetch “top dollar.” Before donating, check the organization’s guidelines on acceptable items. Or, try setting unwanted items on the curb with a sign that says “Free.” Sometimes this makes items miraculously disappear. Also, ask family and friends if there are any items they would want.

Get an expert. Businesses exist for the sole purpose of assisting seniors and their families with the downsizing process. There are enough of these companies to warrant their own organization—the National Association of Senior Move Managers. You can check out their website to find a professional in your area.

If you or a loved one is choosing a retirement community, we invite you to contact us at Traditions of Hershey. We would be glad to provide you with information on downsizing experts and moving companies in the local area. Schedule a visit to preview our senior living community and learn what this lifestyle can offer.

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Editor’s Note: Mike Lapinsky submitted this article. He is the marketing director at Traditions of Hershey Independent Living and Personal Care.