Making the decision to move into a senior living community should be a positive and exciting experience, but at times it can also be emotional and even stressful. If you are leaving a home full of possessions and memories, the to-do list can likely feel a bit overwhelming. Getting your house ready to sell, figuring out what to do with all your things and choosing a real estate agent are just a few of the tasks you may have to tackle. At Peabody Retirement Community, we are here to help make your move into senior living as easy as possible so you can focus on all the good times ahead.
We know it’s tough at any age, but especially for seniors with a lifetime of accumulated belongings. At Peabody, we’ve prepared these simple downsizing tips to help you sort your possessions.
1. Paperwork. Get rid of as much unnecessary paper as you can; but never purge the important paperwork: birth and death records, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, social security cards, pension plan documents, medical records, insurance policies, passports, wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, property deeds, investment records, education records, diplomas, military service records and vehicle titles. Remember to shred any paperwork with your personal information on it!
2. Family Heirlooms. With each treasure, ask yourself if it currently is meaningful to you and your family. Which ones do you truly love? Consider those items “keepers.”
3. Photographs. Schedule a regular time each week to sort and organize photos until you are up-to-date. Divide photos into categories like family, friends, places we’ve lived or visited. Ask a computer savvy family member or friend to scan the photos for you and save them to your computer or put on a CD. Consider donating very old photographs to a local historical archive for the benefit of future generations of your family and the community.
4. Books. When clearing out shelves, try a test to determine which books mean the most to you. If you could keep only 20 titles, which would they be? The rest are negotiable.
5. Artwork. If less wall space or square footage means parting with some artwork, you’ll want to keep or sell any valuable original art. But for the rest, picture your life with only three pieces. Those are the works of art you truly will want to live with every day.
6. Collections. From dolls to model cars, many of us get a lot of enjoyment from collecting things. If you no longer have room for all your collectibles, try to carve out space for three to five of your absolute favorites to keep, display and enjoy.
7. Sentimental Items. When you have a spot to show off or store them, why not keep irreplaceable, sentimental items that may have no real monetary value—like your child’s first booties or the medal you received from completing a marathon? Make a shadow box that can be hung on the wall to save space.
8. Fine Jewelry. You’ll want to keep fine jewelry you wear often or pieces with sentimental value to pass down to your children. But if the cash would mean more to you than the necklace, ring or bracelet, fine jewelry in its original box is very desirable for resale.
9. Expensive Handbags. If you no longer want those designer or status handbags, you’ll discover consignment shops and resellers welcome them—especially if you still have the tags to help prove authenticity and boost the resale price.
10. Electronics. Outdated computers collecting dust belong in the discard pile, but before selling or discarding, clear all your personal information from personal electronics.
A Concise Guide to Downsizing in Retirement by Brad Breeding