Stress-Free Moving for Seniors: Tips for Downsizing
Eventually, older adults have to face the need to downsize and move to a smaller, more manageable home. It can be emotionally taxing and physically demanding work, a process of change that represents a passage to a new life. For many, it feels like they’re throwing away their memories, physical manifestations of an entire life. For others, it’s a cleansing process that frees them to move on to new pursuits and a life unburdened by belongings and the need to care for and store them. In either case, it’s important to approach downsizing in a systematic, organized manner that takes the chaos and distress out of it all. The better prepared and more efficient you are, the smoother things will go and the sooner you’ll be settled into a more relaxed routine. After a life of responsibility and obligation, you’re deserving of some relaxing, carefree living.
Don’t rush it
The best way to take the stress out of downsizing is to begin as early as possible and take the time to do it right. As soon as you know you’ll be moving, start lining up boxes and other materials that’ll help ease the work. Set up packing “stations” in each room so you’re not slowed by having to look around for things you need. Most importantly, establish a practical, achievable timeline that allows you to plan carefully and carry out a smooth transition from your home of many years to a smaller space.
Plan how you’ll carry out the move, deciding on how much of the packing you’ll handle yourself and how much you’ll leave for professional movers. Consider whether it might be worthwhile to contract with a senior move manager, someone who’s experienced at helping older adults organize their belongings and decide what they can do without. If you elect to hire a senior move manager, look for one who belongs to the National Association of Senior Move Managers, an organization dedicated to helping seniors relocate with compassion and expertise.
Break it down
The best way to organize a big job like downsizing and moving is to break it into smaller components. Consider going room by room and packing items that will fit in with the size and decor of your new home. Rather than packing individual items helter skelter, begin with a single chest of drawers or closet, separating objects into piles for making donations, throwing them away, or boxing them up. Bear in mind the layout and size of your new home, right down to the smallest room. Pack boxes so that each one can be emptied and items put away right where they belong. Plan on physically downsizing based on square footage. In other words, if you’re going from a house of 2,500 square feet to one of 1,250 square feet, you’ll need to downsize by 50 percent.
Don’t forget your pup
Dogs are affected by radical changes in their surroundings just as people are. With that in mind, keep your pet away from the hubbub of the moving process as much as possible. If you can, keep him in a room with some familiar objects, food, and water to try and keep him calm. Don’t forget to spend as much time as you can with him. Boarding your dog on moving day will keep him from getting caught underfoot while movers are carrying heavy objects in and out (some moving companies have rules about keeping pets out of the way).
Being prepared and organized will help keep you stress free throughout the moving process. Remember to begin early and work through your possessions, going systematically room by room. Once everything’s in your new home, you’ll be prepared to unpack in an orderly and convenient fashion.
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