staging & redesign
Serving La Crosse, WI and surrounding area
Where new visions are created for your home
Downsizing Isn't Just a Move
For most of us there will come a time when downsizing is a practical choice but not necessarily an easy choice. For empty nesters, the changes may be bittersweet, but the anticipation of less work and less maintenance may be a welcome change. For some seniors the decision may be a necessity rather than a luxury, and may be much more difficult. Suffice it to say that helping a loved one move to a smaller space, Assisted Living or Retirement Home should be a labor of love, patience and a dose of practicality as well. Although we could write a book about the emotional side of downsizing, our goal here is to provide a few practical tips to get you started.
Start the process well ahead of the move, if you have that opportunity. But where do you begin? What do you keep? What do you get rid of? Three big questions and the answers will vary a bit depending on your personal situation.
Let’s start with the first question: where to begin. We suggest starting with the things you or your loved one isn’t using or does not hold emotional ties to. Storage spaces such as the basement, attic and garage are good places to tackle first. Yes, we understand that those places tend to have a lot of “stuff” to go through, but it doesn’t need to be done in a day. Spend a few hours going through those many boxes of pictures. Get rid of duplicates, out of focus pictures, and ones you have no idea what, who or where they were taken! Keep the meaningful ones of family, friends, special events, etc. Those can be copied to CD’s. Spending a few hours with your loved one sharing stories about pictures you love will create new times together to cherish. Tackle file cabinets with a shredder nearby!
What you keep and what you get rid of is the challenge. Dividing your possessions into “Keep”, “Sell”, “Donate” and “Toss/Recycle” is helpful. The first round of purging is fairly easy, especially with the things that can be thrown out or recycled. But, the “Keep” pile tends to be pretty big and inevitably some or much of it will need to be moved to “Sell” or “Donate”. Be aware of the emotional attachment “Keep” items have. It can be difficult to let go, so try not to make all your decisions at once. Consider, too, if you keep it where you will put it after the move. “Donate” items can actually be divided in two. Good Will, the Salvation Army and the Restore are obvious places to donate unused or unwanted items. But what should you do about Great Grandma’s china, or the antique armoire that won’t fit in a small space but has been in the family forever? Consider donating those items to family members, friends and neighbors, or even a church, synagogue, museum or organization dear to you.
Once you have selected the new home or apartment, it is time to look at the new spaces and decide which furniture pieces will work best and fit well in the rooms. This is where we can help. Our philosophy, especially when assisting seniors, is to be very sensitive to the pieces that are important to them, that will create a feeling of “home” and that will also work within the new space and look warm and inviting, too. That includes being aware of favorite accessories and collectibles and artwork…all the things that give comfort and familiarity to the new home. It also includes a practical approach to understanding that not everything will fit in the smaller space. Prioritize what is most important to the person transitioning.
With regard especially to those of you helping an older loved one transition to a new living space, expect that not only can this be difficult for your loved one, but difficult for you as well. Most likely you will have emotional attachment to many of your loved one’s things just as they do. So take it slowly, a little at a time, and keep in mind that what are truly precious are the intangible memories, past, present, and future and the people in them.
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