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Helpful tips for decluttering and downsizing

One of the main reasons older adults put off downsizing or moving to a retirement community is not wanting to deal with all the “stuff” that has accumulated over the years. But if done right, the process of downsizing may not be as daunting as you think. It may even be enjoyable or feel liberating.

Here are a few ideas on how to make downsizing easier.

Start now

If you are thinking about moving, whether to a retirement community like Parsons Presbyterian Manor or to a smaller home, then it’s never too early to start the process of decluttering your home. Do not wait until you are ready to move. You will then have many other things to do and going through your possessions will become overwhelming and stressful.

And, even if you ultimately choose not to move, removing some extra items may feel good and could benefit your family members who will have less stuff to deal with one day.

Recognize that you cannot keep it all

To identify the items you should purge, you first need to know which items you absolutely cannot part with.

But here is the key: after you have created the initial list, pare it down even more. This can be a tough exercise, but the reality is you’ll find things you can get rid of, even if you’ve been saving them for a while. For example, do you still need that sport coat you haven’t worn in years? Probably not. Or that stack of magazines with holiday recipes dating back 10 years? Those can go too. Afterall, your most cherished recipes are not hidden in a tall stack of magazines anyway, right?

Your kids may not want your stuff

Another popular reason for hanging on to various items is the idea that the kids or grandkids will want them. But here’s the hard truth. The things you thought your children would covet may not be so desirable to them. To help sort this out, invite your children (or grandchildren) over for a day to go through your things and find out what they actually want.

Then, gift them those items now. You’ll be able to get them out of your home while also passing down a story that goes with the item.

Start with the easy stuff

When looking at items to get rid of, start small and easy. Look for duplicates in the kitchen or bathroom that you can toss, old towels and sheets, junk mail and old newspapers etc. This will make you feel encouraged and accomplished and give you the momentum to eventually deal with the more emotional items such as pictures, books, heirlooms.

Sort by large and small

Once you know what you want to keep, make a list of big and small items. The big items are anything that will not fit in a regular size moving box, such furniture. As you consider these items, be sure to think about the dimensions and style of your new home so you will know if they will fit. Obviously, it could be tough to list out every single smaller item, but you want to think about your most utilized items first. Consider things like silverware, pictures and wall hangings, kitchenware, books, etc.

Sell, donate, or discard?

Once you’ve decided what items are no longer needed, it is time to decide what to do with them.

Create a separate list with three columns: Sell, Donate, and Trash. If you have items you’d like to see, you can do so online on sites like eBay, or Facebook Marketplace (use caution thought to ensure a buy is legit and meet buyers in public places when possible). Sometimes a good old fashioned yard sale could do the job, but you will want to get someone to help you with the set up and break down. If you have more than a few valuable items, a local company could administer an estate sale for you.

Keep in mind though, items rarely bring in the amount of cash that the owner thinks they will. In some cases, it may simply be easier to donate or discard an item than to go to the trouble of trying to sell it.

Make sure to make a decision for all the items you’re considering. No “maybe’s” or “I’ll think about it” – it will only delay the inevitable.

Hauling the junk

Finally, after you have gone through the steps above, you will still have a lot of items left over. This would include things that have piled up in the garage or basement over the years, such as old paint cans. There are many companies that haul these things away for you, for a fee. The cost may be worth it as often all you have to do is point to the items you want removed, and they will lift and take away to recycle or trash the items accordingly.

Downsizing may sound difficult now but following the steps above could make the process easier. And remember why you’re doing that – whether you’re moving to a senior living community or to a smaller home, you’re looking for a more simplified life and less stress.

If you have questions or concerns about a move to Parson Presbyterian Manor, we can help guide you towards the right decision for you. Contact Natae Nash at 620-421-1450 or

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

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