“Home is where the heart is…even if you can’t remember which box you packed it in” jokes a meme on Pinterest. We can all relate to the stress of moving. Not only does downsizing and moving mean uprooting one’s life and starting again, but if the move is to a smaller residence, a huge part of the work is downsizing a ton of possessions that have accumulated for years, perhaps even a lifetime.
One of the hardest things about moving you may experience is the feeling that you have lost control of your entire world. Unless ill-advised due to advanced age or health problems, we think it is important to involve our clients in the downsizing and moving process as much as possible. We believe extra patience and support for our clients during this very difficult life transition makes it a much more satisfying and positive experience for everyone.
This is the most important strategy. There are a gazillion details in moving, which means planning ahead is essential to a successful relocation.
The first steps in planning ahead are decluttering and downsizing a lifetime of material goods. If possible, at least six months before moving day, shred, toss or give away things like cancelled checks, outdated food or medications, clothes, or extraneous household items that are just taking up space.
Continue decluttering monthly until the actual sorting and packing for the move begins.
Another planning-ahead tip: Collect and keep together important papers in a file cabinet or safe-deposit box, such as deeds, wills, Powers of Attorney, medical records, and passports. The person with Power of Attorney should take charge of these items and keep them safe.
Our client’s well-being is paramount during the decluttering and moving process. We believe in making it all manageable and having fun with the process.
Where to Start Downsizing and Moving?
First, make lists about everything. Have a separate notebook for the move, keep it close, and whenever anything comes up, write it down. Then decide when to move and set a firm date.
Make a floor plan of the new home, to calculate the amount of space there in advance and where to place pieces of furniture.
Make sure that utilities are reconnected at the new place and that prescriptions are refilled.
This is also the opportune time to consider hiring a move manager, senior relocation specialist or organizer (That’s us).
Send address changes to family and friends, billing companies, ICBC, banks, credit card companies, newspapers, churches, and the like. The local post office provides a moving kit of blank ‘change address’ cards at no charge but if you ask them to forward your mail to the new address, there is a cost.
Start with the easiest room and finish all the sorting before packing anything. We recommend you divide furniture and possessions into six categories: save (most beloved); possibly save (rethink later); donate, sell, or give to a friend; and discard. Then label each item according to category.
This is a very meaningful and difficult time for our elder clients as they look through items that bring a flood of memories, such as old photos. Be patient and allow time at this stage to talk about memories, to reminisce about family activities or relatives who are no longer with you, to acknowledge emotions.
Don’t go overboard purging. you can keep some collectibles, especially if they’re small. Your new residence looks like a home, not a motel room!
This step is much easier with help from others – a senior moving specialist, family, or friends. Label the boxes with their destination in the new place. Make sure to pack a special “Open Me First” box with urgent needs such as tins of food with a can opener, bedding, toilet paper, soap, towel, plate, and utensils. Pack items in another specially labeled handbag or overnight case that you want to keep with you at all times: the new lease or residence contract, keys, medications, legal documents, cell phone, and extra cash.
Moving Your Pets
Your furry family members need some extra care in your transition. We wrote an article on the topic of moving your cat or your dog to help you with this step
The Last Step
This step includes discarding, selling, and giving away unneeded items. We will accompany or meet you when you arrive at your new home and assist you in unpacking and settling into your new digs plus we follow up to provide any needed support and help with the stress of this major life event.
If you are a transitioning senior, the most important thing to remember is to blissfully enjoy and make the most of the new home and this new life adventure. That will make all the months of hard work well worth it.
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