As a professional organizer, I often help people when they are going through life transitions. One life transition where the need to declutter and organize arises is when someone is preparing to move to senior living community such as independent living, assisted living or a nursing facility. This is an emotionally difficult time, and often health challenges can make the task of decluttering to prepare for a move even more daunting. Usually, this person, or couple, has decades of belongings in a larger space, and suddenly needs to pare down and move to a much smaller place.
Here are some of my tips to declutter and organize when moving to a senior living community:
Look at a Floor Plan of Your New Place
Look at the square footage, layout and floor plan of the space you are moving into. Understanding this difference in size will help you to determine how much you can reasonably keep and fit into your new place.
Take measurements, and determine which pieces of furniture will fit in your new place, if you’re bringing any with you.
Decide where you’d like to start with sorting and decluttering. You may decide to declutter room by room, or to declutter by category such as clothing or papers.
Sort all items by type, and then choose your favorite things to keep. If you need assistance with this, contact a member of The National Association of Organizing and Productivity Professionals.
Keep Your Cherished Items
Keepsakes are important, so keep your most cherished items, but understand that you will probably need to pare these down due to space constraints. Create memory boxes that will reasonably fit in a closet or shelf in your new place.
Keep Useful Belongings
As you sort through your belongings, ask yourself, “Will this be useful to me in my new home?” You may find that some things will not be useful. For example, one of my clients moving to an assisted living place with a dining room that served 3 meals a day did not need to keep most of her cooking supplies.
Ask Family & Friends
Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, first ask friends and family if they want any of the furniture and household items that you are parting with. Make sure they schedule a time to pick up these items.
Contact a Charity
If you’d prefer, you can contact a non-profit charity of your choice to see if they’d like your donations. Many charities will pick up large donations from your home.
Contact an Estate Sales Company
If you have valuable items and prefer to sell your belongings quickly, contact an estate sales company to sell the items for you.
Contact a Senior Move Manager
For further assistance, contact a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers to help you with the transition to your new senior living place.
With the help of your friends, family, neighbors, local charities, estate sellers, professional organizers and senior move managers, this emotionally difficult life transition can be less overwhelming.