Whether you’ve gotten the call that you’re close to the top of a waiting list or just recently decided to start your journey to senior living, making the transition can be stressful, overwhelming, and a bit intimidating. There’s a lot of emotion with leaving a home you love — you saw your children grow up there, you are flooded with the many memories made there, and you have a number of belongings that are sentimental and important to you. Making decisions during this emotional time can be difficult and you shouldn’t have to navigate it alone.
There are a number of tools and resources to help you make the move into senior living — every step of the way. We’ve partnered with our approved and vetted professional relocation services at Pathway Movers and Greenridge Realty to provide expert tips on downsizing, organizing, and preparing your home in order to make your transition as easy and stress-free as possible.
The emotional element is arguably the hardest piece of making this decision.
A New Beginning
The Senior Real Estate Specialists at Greenridge Realty are often asked, “Is this the right time to sell a house with the market as flat as it is?” “Should we wait to put mom’s house on the market?” And the answer is always the same, “If you or your loved one will be free of financial burden, have less work to do, live in a safe environment, secure friends, and find enjoyable activities to engage; of course, do it now — the priority is the quality of living for you or your loved one!”
However, they also recognize that there are many factors to consider when assisting an aging adult with this important decision. The issue can be daunting when considering your health, mobility, financial, and emotional well-being. The emotional element is arguably the hardest piece of making this decision. They often make the comparison of leaving your home being much like leaving a good friend — it's hard. In talking to some of their senior clients who have lived in their house for many years, they have sensitively shared their feelings about sadness and loss in relation to selling their family home:
- Loss is felt deeply. This is where they’ve raised their family, enjoyed good times with friends and neighbors, and found personal peace. It is difficult to think of replacing this “good friend” with a stranger.
- Anger is an emotion sometimes felt as they travel through the process of letting go. Reasons beyond their control have forced them to consider selling the family house. Deteriorating health, financial concerns, and a changing environment are a few of the realities facing them.
- Fear is another strong emotion that can overtake a person going through the process of selling a house. Making a new home in a different setting can evoke anxiety and stress.
Although these emotions are all completely normal and valid, Greenridge notes how by honoring the history behind the walls of the house, everyone involved in the moving process can help make the transition smoother and less stressful.
“It has taken a lifetime to accumulate your houseful of assets and memories so don’t expect it to be something you will complete quickly — it will take time both physically and mentally,” says Lisa Kuhn, Senior Move Manager with Pathway Movers.
5 Tips for Downsizing
So, you’ve made the decision to make the move or are in the process of doing so and are realizing you now have to prepare your home to sell. You’re probably feeling overwhelmed knowing that all of the belongings and furniture in your current home won’t all be able to come with you. It seems like a daunting task to have to tackle and is a process that presents a significant change that’s both physically exhausting and emotionally draining. In an effort to alleviate this burden, we’ve worked with our friends and experts at Greenridge Realty and Pathway Movers to compile the following five tips for easier downsizing and organizing:
1. Give yourself time.
Downsizing is not something that will happen overnight. It is a process and can take months to complete. “It has taken a lifetime to accumulate your houseful of assets and memories so don’t expect it to be something you will complete quickly — it will take time both physically and mentally,” says Lisa Kuhn, Senior Move Manager with Pathway Movers. Planning is crucial and giving yourself at least 6 months in advance is not unreasonable. Determining a date to finish your downsizing process can also be helpful — making that date within 2 months, at the latest, of when you need to move. This will prevent you from continuing to procrastinate as well as give you a good buffer of time where you’re not feeling rushed, thereby adding additional stress to the process.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Decide who you can reach out to for help with downsizing and make sure they can fully commit to a date within your timeline. If you have items you would like for family members to take, tell them to collect those items in the week or two before your self-imposed downsizing deadline. Having someone there to help you with lifting and moving items, stacking containers or boxes, etc. will help to prevent injury as well. If you find yourself in a position where family is not nearby, the experts at Pathway Movers can help in the downsizing, sorting, packing, and even moving processes — helping you to decide what you need and what to give to family and friends. Arrangements for storage can also be set up for you if that is something you need. Talk with trusted advisors such as clergy, a family attorney, a physician, or family members so you can have open dialogue about concerns and clarify questions. Leaning on friends and family members who may have already moved into a new living environment can help give you an idea of what to expect as well.
3. Develop a Sorting System
Whether it's coded labels, magic markers, computer spreadsheets, detailed listings, making piles, or taking digital images, sorting in a meaningful manner can be helpful. What’s important however, is to choose a system that works best for you. One example Greenridge Realty gave was to have two tables set up in your garage (or area that works best for you) — one table for items to get rid of, and one table for things to save. She also suggests purchasing some clear plastic containers. These are beneficial as you can clearly see what’s inside of them and they will help protect your items from damage from the elements.
You can then have the people helping you bring items to you and place them on one of the tables. As they go back for more items, you can start to separate which items go on the “get rid of” table or “save” table. You can also have a large trash bag there for items you wish to throw away. The items you choose to save can immediately go into the plastic containers with a cover and label so they’re ready to be stored or come with you. All papers that need to be gone through can go into plastic containers for future selection of what to keep or throw away. This can always be done over time, even after you move, as these types of items don’t tend to take up as much space.
4. Remember That You Are in Charge
Although family and friends can, and should, have input with your decisions, you ultimately will be the one that needs to live with them and should be the final decision-maker. You’re allowed to change your mind and should probably expect to change your mind on things a number of times over the course of the process. If you’re ever in doubt about certain items, keep them in your “save” pile until you’re sure because once it's gone, it's gone — you can always sell it or get rid of it at a later date. Remember, it probably took 10, 20, 30 years, or more to accumulate these treasures so be patient with yourself and ask for friends and family to be patient as well.
5. Prepare for Resale and Staging
When you’re ready for the move, remember that you have a team of experts to lean on. Our team at Holland Home can assist in analyzing financial capabilities, are trained to assess each particular situation, and can recommend a type of housing to match lifestyle, health needs, and personal preferences. In addition, Greenridge noted how by talking to a Senior Real Estate Specialist, they can help determine how much equity is in the home, what costs are involved, and what dollar amount can be expected upon the sale of the house.
Pathway Movers can help to prepare your home with partial or full interior staging so you can sell your home faster and perhaps get a better price. They can even help with the final process of your home cleanout from selling valuables you wish to get rid of, making donations, and the recycling and hauling of items that cannot be donated.
Holland Home also provides up to a $1500 Relocation Bonus to help pay for a variety of the helpful services noted above. By partnering with Greenridge, you also have access to a number of additional perks such as:
- Free Home Value Market Analysis and a Sales Preparation consultation with a Senior Moving Specialist from Greenridge prior to home listing
- Instant 1% reduction in commission from 7% to 6% upon the listing of your home.
- Free in-home consultation for all your moving requirements including a personalized moving plan and timeline.
- Complimentary downsizing, sorting, and organizing services – 2 hours 2 people.
- An additional $500 towards moving services through Pathway Senior Movers.
A Little Less Stress
By utilizing the tools and resources above, we hope you’ll find the process of moving to senior living a little less stressful. Change is so often associated as a negative — health changes, loss of hearing, loss of hair, friends and family experiencing the effects of aging, etc. However, allowing yourself enough time to go through the steps and suggestions noted above can help you “say goodbye” as well as give you time to start getting excited about your new beginning — realizing this change can impact your life in so many positive ways as you age. Most importantly, you can know you’re not in this alone. We’re here to help you every step of the way!