For many people, the hardest part about moving is figuring out what to take with them and what to leave behind. If you’ve been living in one home for many years, you know how easy it is for things to accumulate, from mementos and holiday decorations to wall ornaments and other knickknacks.
How Do I Start Downsizing?
Making the move to a new home or retirement village can be tough for older adults, especially if they are moving to a smaller space than they are used to. That is often the case if you are downsizing from a large single-family home into an apartment or cottage at a senior living community.
Leaving home is one of the most common fears for seniors, so if you are helping your parent move, be prepared for them to be dealing with several strong emotions; they may be even be slightly depressed after moving to a new house. However, there is still an important job to be done to aid this transition: downsizing. Accomplishing this task head-on and with efficiency—rather than dragging it out or turning it into a huge stressful burden—can help your parent process their emotions in a positive way and feel more at peace about moving to senior living housing in Federal Way.
Determining How Much Space You'll Have
Once you have opted to transition to independent living or assisted living, you must start planning for your move and determining how much of your stuff you can reasonably bring with you. The first step to include on your checklist for moving elderly parents or yourself is acquiring a copy of the floor plan for your apartment or space, complete with measurements.
With the floor plan in hand, you can decide what will fit ahead of time. You might be surprised to discover you can take more furniture and personal items than you may have feared.
At Village Green Retirement Campus, there are two types of independent living options to choose from: apartments and cottages. Apartments consist of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartment homes that range from 450 square feet to 800 square feet. | View Floorplans
Cottages are free-standing two- or three-bedroom homes that range from 1,500 square feet to 2,500 square feet. They have garages attached. The more space you have in your new place, the more belongings you'll be able to move with you to your new home. | View Floorplans
Assisted living at Village Green is strictly apartments and includes a variety of floor plans such as studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Apartments have a deck or patio to enjoy the outdoors and plenty of closet space to store items. The assisted living apartments range in size from 450 to 800 square feet. | View Floorplans
How Do You Help Seniors Downsize?
When you’re helping an older adult move, you want to be delicate when broaching the topic of downsizing. Mementos conversations, or discussing what to do with special, sentimental items, can be especially difficult. The most important thing is to ensure your parents feel empowered and like they’re in control.
Establish a system for navigating through your parent’s household items and belongings and apply it consistently to increase efficiency. Use these key questions to help them figure out what they want to keep and what to give away or sell:
- Is this item regularly used, or has it been used in the past year?
- Does the item truly enhance the quality of your older adult’s life?
- Would this item physically fit in their smaller living space and future lifestyle?
- Does it have a significant dollar value?
Most minimalists say if an item costs less than $20 to buy again, then you can get rid of it and see if you truly miss having it in your life. The challenge for many seniors in this current day and age is that they still carry the mentality passed on to them from their parents, who had to manage and live frugally during the Great Depressions.
Expect for the process to take time and be filled with discussion. After all, you’re going through potentially several decade’s worth of accumulated items. Don’t try to get it all done in one go. Break it down into small sorting sessions to keep the momentum going. Since this is an emotionally intense activity, you and your parent risk decision fatigue. Try to keep each individual session to three hours max.
Be kind and empathetic. There may be instances where your parent doesn’t realize that a certain household item isn’t as monetarily valuable as they believed. In those moments, encourage them to consider how much value they’ve gotten out of it over the years and explain that it could still bring happiness to another family if they donate it.
It may also be meaningful to your parent if you agree to take at least one special memento. It doesn’t have to be anything large, like a piece of furniture, but picking out an item associated with a bright memory is a loving gesture.
How to Prioritize and Sort Your Items
Aside from the emotional aspect of downsizing, there are also the logistics. How do you assist your loved one in choosing what to take with them and what to leave behind? There are several methods to use when prioritizing the items in your life. Here are a few options:
1. Packing Party
This method is ideal if you are moving into a retirement community, because you essentially pack all of your items, move them to your new place and then only unpack the items you intend on using. You'll have boxes stacked for about three months, but once you hit the three-month mark, you will have unpacked all of the things you actually use. After that, you can simply get rid of the leftover items in the boxes.
2. Four Boxes
The title speaks for itself in this prioritizing method. Gather four boxes in a room and label them with "put away", "give away", "throw away", and "undecided". Then go through the room and place any clutter in the box it belongs in. This method is useful if you are an indecisive person, giving you more time to think about the items in the undecided box.
3. KonMari Method
In this decluttering method, you collect all of your belongings of a certain category and dump them in a common place. Then you hold each item individually and decide what to keep based on what brings you joy. Everything that does not spark joy for you is then left behind.
What to Do with Your Belongings When Moving to a Senior Community
Once your parent has gone through their belongings and determined what they want to keep, the next task you face is determining what to do with the rest of their stuff. You may decide to keep certain mementos or keepsakes for yourself or distribute them among your family according to your parent’s wishes. As for the rest of the stuff, here are some options for what to do with it after your parent is settled into their new senior living community in Federal Way:
1. Give Away
One of the first things you may want to consider is asking extended family and close friends if there are items they want to take. There may be a painting or piece of furniture with special meaning for them. They will want to keep it as a reminder of the good times they had in the past with you or your parents in your family home. You’ll be glad to know the item found a new home where it will continue to be appreciated.
Many things can be donated to charity, which will give you a good feeling about your belongings being enjoyed by someone new. Clothing that you no longer wear but that is in good shape is always in demand. Furniture and kitchen items are also needed. You will find various organizations throughout Federal Way and the surrounding area that accept donations. If you don’t know where to donate your gently used items and those in good condition, check with local senior organizations.
Another idea is to host a garage sale or an estate sale at your parent’s old home. You’d be surprised at the stuff people will buy for a bargain. Not only can you make a little money your parent can put into their savings, but they can use this opportunity to say goodbye to their neighbors as well. A sale is a lot of work, so you might want to enlist help.
If a garage sale is more than you can handle, consider contacting an auction house or resale shop. Some of these places will pay you outright for your items, while others will accept them on consignment. They receive a percentage of the selling price as their fee.
Sometimes the issue isn’t a lack of space but rather a lack of purpose. Where you’re moving, you may not need certain items. Think outside the box on a new way to use your belongings. If you’re crafty, old clothing you no longer wear or items worn by your children that you kept can be made into quilts or pillows. You can go online and find all kinds of ideas on Pinterest about how to re-purpose items to make them useful again.
Senior Moving Companies in Federal Way, WA
Sometimes, when it comes down to it, extra help is needed to move your furniture, clothes and other belongings to your new home. Here is a short list of Federal Way moving companies that could make the transition to retirement community living that much easier for you and your loved one.
Two Men and a Moving Van
"Two Men and A Moving Van LLC is a family-owned company, established in 2008. We started our business with two men and a van providing small moving services in the Greater Federal Way and Tacoma areas. Today the company provides high-quality moving and packing services at affordable prices using trucks of various sizes. We proudly operate in the Greater Seattle area as well." – Two Men and a Moving Van
Olympic Moving & Storage
"Olympic Moving & Storage offers a wide range of packing and crating services, from crating a single item, to packing a complete house, to an entire warehouse or manufacturing plant pack out. It all depends on the specific needs of our customers." – Olympic Moving & Storage
Seattle's Best Moving & Delivery LLC
"We're a Seattle-based, moving company. Whether you’re moving your household or your office, moving your stuff across town or across the state—we can help! No job is too big or small for our friendly crew. We provide quick moving quotes, pro moving advice, labor service, furniture delivery, removal of furniture, and even Storage in Transit." – Seattle's Best Moving & Delivery LLC
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