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Downsizing tips for seniors: How to start getting rid of your stuff now

Tips for pruning your possessions long before you move


Few of us look forward to going through all of the things we’ve accumulated over the years and winnowing them down to the most essential. It always feels great once it’s done but getting started can be tough.

REALTOR® Gwen Price recommends that seniors get organized and start getting rid of their stuff while they are still living in their homes—long before they contemplate moving to a retirement home, apartment or a smaller house.

“There is never a bad time to start. We are all guilty of having too much stuff,” says the agent. “If you know that in the near future you are going to be selling your home and moving into a smaller home, apartment or retirement home, you should start now to gradually go through your things, because you will not be able to take it all with you into a smaller space.”

“It is an emotional process sometimes,” she warns. “As you go through items, memories will come flooding back and it will make the process harder and longer.”

Price is one of the cohosts of Ageing in Action, a TV show and podcast on ageing well in Northern Ontario. She has a certificate in gerontology, a SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialist®) designation and has long advocated on behalf of seniors.

Often people wait until there is a crisis in their health or life circumstances before they make the decision to move. What also happens often is that the homeowner passes away and it is left to the family to dispose of all of their items; this is time-consuming and emotionally draining for the grieving family.

Price recommends that you try not to take it all on at once. Instead, do a little bit at a time. Enlist friends or family to help you sort through the items, dividing them into three categories: keep, donate or recycle/throw away.

Expert help is available

She has interviewed three different businesses on this very topic, for her video/podcast Real Estate with Gwen Price – Gwen Talks to the Experts. Each of these can help seniors downsize, including helping you decide what to keep or donate.

Nicole Blais from Goshenite Seniors Services, Transition & Relocation Consultants, Sudbury

This company helps clients transition to a new place. Offerings include concierge services, downsizing, move management, estate and content sales, driving seniors and home care services. See Price’s YouTube interview with Blais to learn more.

Darlene Tripp from Hello Darlene, North Bay

Hello Darlene provides clients with professional organizing, decluttering, downsizing, legacy planning and more. Watch the interview here.

Tamara Hyland with Orderly Digs, Sudbury

Tamara provides Certified Professional Home Organization, which helps you get to the root of the issue. She then creates a plan to help you put the processes and systems in place that will keep your home organized. See how Tamara can help.

The facts

People tend to hang on to things thinking that their family will want them, but most do not want these items and find it onerous to deal with.

How much stuff will most of us have to get rid of? It depends on where you are going, says Price.

If you currently live in a 2-storey, 4-bedroom home with multiple bathrooms and you’ll be moving into a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment, condo or retirement home, you are going to need to get rid of at least half (if not more) of your things.

The REALTOR® doesn’t advise renting storage units to store excess items because that is just delaying the process.

“I do follow a Facebook page, Becoming Minimalist. Joshua Becker offers good tips, such as ‘Minimize First, Organize Second. Once you minimize your stuff, the organizing tends to take care of itself.’ He also says, ‘Be remembered for the life you lived, not the things you bought,’" says Price.

If you’re a senior and you’re thinking of selling and downsizing, call a trusted REALTOR®. They can offer resources and suggestions that can help make the transition a lot less stressful.

For more information, visit Gwen Price Homes or call 705-561-2335.


As published in Sudbury.com

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