Moving is one of the most stressful times of your life. Whether it’s moving to another home in your local community, or across the country for new opportunities, there’s a lot you leave behind.
For seniors, that compounds, especially if they leave a family home they’ve lived in for decades.
Tackling the planning, organizing, packing, discarding, cleaning, paperwork, and a host of other chores can be daunting at best.
As we age, moving often signals new opportunities. We find new relationships. We find new positions. We might even make a move for new adventures.
But for many of us, we reach a point where the move is no longer as positive as moves once were. The move may be to make it easier to live – moving from a two story to a single story can make mobility that much easier. Yet the process means there are things we’ll have to give up.
As difficult as it is for your loved one, sometimes it’s even more difficult for you. You may realize it’s the best decision for your spouse. But given different circumstances, you’d never move for yourself. How do you leave it all behind? How do you put a smile on your face and realize it’s for the best?
The more time you can give yourself to get through the process, the easier it can be. Don’t leave things until the last minute. Six to twelve months can give you plenty of time to begin the decluttering process.
Shred, toss, or give away obvious items like canceled checks, outdated medications, clothes, or extra household items that take up space.
Box up things you don’t regularly use yet are things you’ll want in your new location. Breakables and collections can be stored for safekeeping.
Put all of your important paperwork in one place: deeds, wills, passports, medical records, diplomas, birth certificates, etc. This will also make it easier to pull information as you need it throughout this process.
Give away all you can. If your kids don’t want things, donate and purge.
Throughout The Process
Make lists – they will be your best friend. Keep them in a notebook so you can refer to them all the time. If you think of something, write it down. With the amount of change you’re going through, having a running list will keep you on track.
Get estimates early. Ask for help whenever possible. Find out how much it will take to hire movers, packers, organizers, and others that can help you throughout the process.
When you’ve finalized your future home, create a floorplan of the inside and outside. Be sure measurements are accurate and make notes of where windows, doors, built-in shelves, heater vents, outlets, and any other permanent structures are. This will give you a plan you can refer to again and again as you decide what to take and what to sell.
While it’s nice to bring familiar pieces with you to your new place, what can you do to incorporate something new that will help you adjust that much better? Have you had your eye on a chair for years? Would you love a new appliance, something you’ve never allowed yourself to get before? This can give you something to look forward to.
In every room, with every process, work diligently until you are finished. Create three piles: keep, give away, throw away. Then decide as you touch something and stick with the plan. Don’t look back. Don’t rethink. Sort and move on to your next project. This works for everything from a drawer in your kitchen to your bedroom closet.
Be patient. The person you are caring for might not have the strength to help as much as you can. They may ponder over memories more than you have time for. Take the time to ensure their stress levels stay down throughout the process. Ask for help whenever you can.
When moving day arrives, if you’ve worked diligently, it should run as smoothly as possible. Leave nothing to chance. Set arrival times well in advance and be ready. If it’s too difficult for your loved one, make arrangements for them for the day. Label everything. Be available on both ends for loading and unloading. Have “first open” boxes to settle in as quickly as possible.
Downsizing is stressful for everybody. But with a little work and a lot of planning, you can come out the other side happy, and settle into your new routines quickly and efficiently. And get back to the simple things in life.