7 Ways to De-clutter Your Life and Manage the Move to a Senior Living Community
The move to an apartment in a senior living community generally means choosing convenience, socialization and security over lawn care and housework. It is an opportunity to de-clutter and dig out of decades worth of accumulated stuff. But for many, the process some call “downsizing” can be the very obstacle in the way of a simpler, more carefree life.
“Even after making the call to move to a smaller place there are often fears that keep people from getting started,” says Ann Armistead of Downsize Designs, a partner with Harmony Senior Services who works with many making the move to senior living communities. “After all, we’re not just talking about furniture and belongings, but what makes a house a home.” Often, that means tough decisions about what to keep, what to possibly store, and what to do with the rest. That can be a lot of work, both physically and emotionally, so Ann offers these guidelines:
1. The one year rule.
If you haven’t used something in one full year, through all the holidays and seasons, it can probably go. Maybe there are clothes we know we will never wear or serving dishes that are nice but just not necessary. Be honest and let the calendar decide if it is something you need or just a collector of dust and space.
2. The replacement rule.
For something you might need, but you are not sure, if it can be affordably replaced then don’t keep it. This is often true for small appliances like the never-used wok or the flannel sheets that feel great but the weather is just never right for them. If some day you decide you just cannot live without it, there is always the option to replace. More likely, it won’t be missed.
3. Let your smile guide you.
For decorative and sentimental items, now is the time to be honest. Does it put a really big smile in your heart? If not, let someone else love it. Is it a collection? Keep 2, 3 or a small assortment, photograph the rest for an album and consider storage. For really large, sentimental items that will cramp your new space, take pictures and keep those, instead of trying to wedge big furniture into your new space.
4. Don’t do too much at once.
Making decisions like this can be an emotional time. Start early enough so you can work at it just a little bit each day, making effective decisions. People who wait until the last minute to get started tend to toss everything, or keeping everything, neither of which will make you happy.
5. Start in rooms used least.
By beginning in a space in your home you don’t spend much time in, you keep the mess away from where you’re living. As a bonus, when you’re done with a spare room, it can be used for sorting and storing items from your heavily used spaces. This will go a long way towards keeping you from being frustrated by the process that is supposed to be helping you simplify.
6. Start big.
Decide on big items first. This will not only start to open up space and see real progress early, it will also help you avoid temptations to overstuff your new living space.
7. Get help.
You shouldn’t feel badly if this is all too overwhelming. Many people need help. Someone who is objective can keep you moving, keep you honest with yourself, make everything much less stressful, and save you tons of time. Help can come from family members, friends, or professionals, like myself.
Ann Armistead is Senior Move Manager at Downsize Designs headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Reach her at www.downsizedesigns.com.