Wednesday, 12 September 2018 06:45

9 Tips to help Seniors downsize

While I was growing up we moved every couple of years. With each move my mom would ruthlessly declutter and get rid of stuff she hadn’t used or no longer wanted. My lasting memory of each of these moves was mom presenting each of her 4 children with 1 large moving box. We had to sort out our toys, books and stationery and could only take what would fit into our respective boxes. As a result, we never accumulated unwanted stuff and each move was relatively easy.

Fast forward 50 years to my parents’ final move into a retirement home. Downsizing was easy, and decisions were made quickly and without too much stress.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Downsizing can be a stressful and anxious process for most Seniors, and choosing what to let go of and what to keep is often very difficult and emotional.

Here are 9 tips to make the downsizing process less stressful:

  1. Start early. Sorting out a lifetime and a home full of memories will take time. Give yourself plenty of time ahead of a move to work steadily through your home.
  2. Start easy: Start with items that have little emotional attachment and work your way to the more important items. I usually advise starting with linen, guest rooms, spare rooms and garages. This way you will ease yourself into the process and get used to letting go of things.
  3. Eliminate whole rooms: If you are moving from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom cottage, almost everything in those extra spaces will need to go, so it shouldn’t be hard to decide what to get rid of.
  4. Toss duplicate items: If you have more than one of anything, pick one you like and use, and donate the other. Also consider whether you need the item at all.
  5. Reduce your collections: If you have a number of collections it can be tough to get rid of them. I suggest you pick a couple of favourite pieces to keep and take photos of the rest, then let them go. That way you can remember your treasures without them taking up space.
  6. Make yes or no piles—no maybes: Sometimes you will struggle over an item. Put it in a ‘maybe’ pile and move on. Come back to it later when you have had a chance to think about it, and where it would live should you choose to keep it.
  7. Pass down special items: Now is the time to pass down sentimental or valuable items to younger members of your family. But be sure to ask them first!
  8. Allow yourself time to reminisce: While you don’t want to take too long to sort through everything, you should give yourself time to think about the memories and reminisce. It will be easier to move on if you do.
  9. Hire a professional: Consider hiring a Professional Organiser who specialise in working with Seniors. They can help keep you on track, will do all the heavy lifting and clearing of cupboards, leaving you to make the decisions. 

Possibly the best advice is to declutter on a regular basis (as my mom did), so that it is a lot easier when you get to that final move!

Any thoughts?

Published in Organizing
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 15:37

7 Tips to help Seniors through the moving process

Recently we assisted an elderly lady downsize and move from her family home of 35 years. Her daughter, who lives overseas, had decided that her mom needed to move to a safer, smaller environment. While her decision came from a place of love and concern, it caused a lot of stress, anxiety and pain for her mom.

Published in Organizing

How can I help my mom? What can I do about her stuff she can’t take? How do I get her to let go? These are questions I am asked all the time when people hear that I assist Seniors with the daunting process of downsizing and moving.

More recently a friend came to me for help. She was assisting an elderly couple move from their family home into 2 rooms in a retirement home and had some concerns. The couple were overwhelmed, distressed at having to leave their home, and with their only daughter overseas had turned to my friend for assistance and advice.

We worked through the concerns and I gave her answers to the questions she had. Recently I came across the email correspondence and thought it would be good to share as I am sure there are many people with similar questions and dilemmas:

Q. How do they decide what to keep and what to leave behind?

A. The rooms at the retirement home are small and storage space is at a premium. They need to be sure that what they take, they will use. Clothes should be limited and can be sorted by winter and summer so they can have out of season items out of the way, possibly on top of a cupboard. Other than that, their personal linen, comfortable chairs, a small coffee table and if possible their choice of curtains. Also choose a few favourite personal items that will make them feel at home.

Q. What do I tell their daughter?

A. It’s really important that you keep her in the loop. It’s a good idea to email her regularly with updates so that she feels involved and knows exactly what is happening.

Q. They need to sell as much as possible as they need the money. All the appliances, all the furniture, paintings, all small appliances, rugs, all kitchen smalls, clothes and linen must go. What do I do?

A. I would strongly suggest either sending most of it to auction, or to a consignment store, as this is the quickest and easiest way to sell goods.

Q. What about selling online?

A. I wouldn’t do this. It is already extremely stressful for them and this would just add to their stress. Having to respond to people who call, and also deal with people who want to view items will add to their stress, and take time they don’t really have.

Q. They keep saying they need the money. What can they expect from the sales?

A. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with 2nd hand goods so they cannot expect to make a huge amount from the sales, unless there are seriously valuable items. Often there is a perceived value and the sentimental value, but it is always the market value that dictates.

Q. Are there any things I need to be aware of to safeguard myself, any pitfalls I should be aware while helping them?

A. It is important that you ensure they fully understand what you are doing at all times and keep their daughter in the loop always. It’s a good idea to have a paper trail, noting what you have done, where things have gone, what is being sold, what is being donated. That way there can be no misunderstandings, and no issues at a later stage.

The couple moved and have settled into their new home. Most of their goods were sold at auction or donated. Their daughter came to visit and could spend quality time with them. My friend found the experience both very emotional and extremely rewarding!

Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Do you have questions regarding assisting Seniors move?

Published in News

Understanding why overwhelmed Seniors and elderly relatives are disorganised or surrounded by clutter.

A few months back a client, John, called to ask for assistance with his elderly mom. He was moving her to a lovely studio flat in a retirement home. I visited them both in her home to organise the downsizing process.

Every surface, every corner, every cupboard was jam packed with a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff. It was difficult to negotiate the spaces and even harder to see what we would be dealing with.

We cleared and sorted for days. Furniture and prized possessions were redistributed among family and friends. A huge amount was donated to her favourite charities, and quite a lot was simply recycled or tossed.

John was taken aback at how disorganised his mom was, how much stuff there was and how difficult it was for her to let go once we started the process. But his mom is not unique! We see this time and again when assisting Seniors with a move or simple declutter.

It’s important for the family to understand why their overwhelmed parents or elderly relatives are disorganised or surrounded by clutter. Here are 6 reasons to consider:

  • Seniors invariably do not move often, and so there is usually alifetime’s accumulation of memories and possessions.
  • They worry about memory loss, and feel that having things around them will remind them of the happy times associated with the items.
  • Often Seniors have physical limitations. They might tire easily. They might struggle to move furniture or reach high shelves.
  • They more than likely grew up in a time where saving and holding onto things washow they managed. Things were kept “just in case”. Items were fixed, rather than discarded.
  • Seniors are living for longer, and there could be a fear they will run out of money.And so they hold onto things that could possibly be used at some point.
  • They may not know where to donate items they no longer want.

John’s mom is happily settled in her new downsized home. She has a few key treasures, her favourite artwork and her special armchair. We took a lot of digital photos of memorable items that she let go, which were downloaded onto a digital frame for her.

She has everything she needs and everything she holds dear, without all the stuff!

His mom was overwhelmed and emotional at the thought of downsizing and letting go most of her possessions

For more see the following article by Alejandra Roca: The Senior’s Guide for Decluttering and Feeling at Home

 

Published in News

Contact Us

Telephone: +27 (0)82 926 3531
Email: judith@allsortednow.co.za 

Gallery