A move to assisted living means cleaning out and getting rid of lots of the ‘stuff’ we accumulate over a lifetime. Contrary to what you may think, this process is actually a freeing and positive experience for many, and you can help your loved one making the transition to senior living gain the benefits of de-cluttering. Let’s call it rightsizing instead of downsizing.
Keep, donate or toss
These categories will help as you work with your loved one to decide what to do with his or her possessions. Some people buy differently-colored post-it notes and assign each color to one of these categories. As you go through each room, talk about the item and decide whether to keep it, donate it, or toss it; the post-it note makes it simple to go back later and group the items together.
Do a room-by-room tour
Start slowly and go room-by-room to assess how much stuff there is. Don’t try to do this all at once because it will be overwhelming to your loved one (and you). Pick one room and start a detailed inspection. The bedroom master closet is a good place to start. It’s often easier to get rid of clothing and shoes than other items that carry more emotional weight.
Pay attention to the kitchen
Many people discover that most of their ‘stuff’ lives in the kitchen. Over the years, lots of plates, bowls, glassware, pots and pans, utensils, small appliances and other kitchen accessories build up. A move to senior living means a smaller kitchen and most meals provided by the residence.
As you help sort through the kitchen inventory, focus on keeping only those items used once a week or more. Narrow down the pots and pans inventory to a few differently-sized skillets, saucepan and baking pan. Keep enough plates, bowls, glasses and silverware for family visits. Also, identify a few favorite spices and get rid of the rest. Which specialized kitchen accessories and small appliances to keep will depend on what kind of cook your loved one is and whether he or she plans to continue making that famous banana bread or homemade pasta sauce.
Separate special memories from the item
Separating an item from the special memories that go with it is often difficult. However, doing so is essential to help your loved one make a clean and positive break into a simpler lifestyle. We’re not saying your loved one's favorite hat for family picnics, or beautiful memento from a dream trip to Paris has to go. Instead, set aside one box for those special keepsakes. Then, your loved one can display these somewhere or store them in a keepsake box.
Look to the benefits of rightsizing
There’s a growing minimalist living movement across the country. People of all ages recognize how good it feels to unburden themselves of stuff. Those who have successfully de-cluttered often experience less stress, easier maintenance, more free time, less waste, and more savings.
Rightsizing to a Tennessee assisted living community is the right choice for many seniors, so focus on the benefits of de-cluttering as you help mom or dad make this transition. Looking for the right assisted living community for your loved one? Take a look at our wonderful senior living communities.