Decluttering and Downsizing for Seniors

Decluttering is the first step in getting the home ready for buyers. Seniors, particularly those who’ve lived in their home for years, have a lot of stuff. And much of it is precious to them; it’s certainly not “clutter”! But buyers will likely see it as such.

To gain a different perspective, it’s helpful to see your home as if you were a buyer seeing it for the first time. What stands out as “too much,” messy, or distracting? Those are clues to where decluttering and cleaning should begin.

To help you visualize what a market-ready home looks like, consider visiting two or three open houses in your area. This is especially important if you believe your home is worth more than it is and/or if it is dated.

Older adults who are downsizing can be stressed and worried about the future, and hanging onto your possessions may make you feel grounded. The thought of getting rid of things with memories attached is difficult, sometimes unthinkable.

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If the task of decluttering seems overwhelming, try addressing one room at a time. If family members or trusted friends are available to help, that’s great. Either way, it is important to know that decluttering is part of downsizing. If parting with possessions is an issue, try focusing on your future. What possessions will go the furthest in making your new place feel homey?

One suggestion we like to give our clients is to prepare one room at a time, and not bring anything new into that room when it’s finished. In addition, some organizing experts recommend labeling three boxes:

  • Give away/donate: Knowing others will enjoy or get use out of these items may encourage seniors to let some possessions go.
  • Put in storage: Save this box for things they definitely want to keep for the future or can’t yet make up their minds to part with.
  • Throw away/recycle: Use this one for damaged items or those no longer useful.

Don’t let the boxes linger; take care of them as they fill.

Some seniors have embraced the Swedish concept of dostadning (the words death and cleaning). It may sound gloomy, but the philosophy itself is not. With dostadning, owners clean out and declutter their material possessions before they die, which saves their loved ones from the task, often a huge and distressing undertaking.

More tips include:

  • Have boxes of old photos, slides, etc., transferred to DVDs or stored online.
  • Make copies or take photos of favorite recipes from cookbooks and then re-home the books themselves.
  • If the downsizing project includes furniture and more household items, consider an estate sale.
  • Hire a “junk” removal company. If possible, choose a sustainable company, one that recycles or donates items.

Hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions or need any help with your decluttering/downsizing efforts, feel free to Contact Us anytime. We have great resources who are friendly, reliable, and professional 🙂

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