With their children now grown and caring for houses of their own, baby boomers are often left with a large home to clean and filled from the basement to the attic with a lifetime of “stuff.” There might be treasures in those plastic containers and cardboard boxes, but chances are, much of it is simply “stuff” that no longer fits our bodies—or our lifestyles. For many baby boomers, downsizing is often an option and even if they decide to stay put, it can be freeing to go ahead and sort through all of those containers and boxes.
But especially for people who are looking to downsize, preparation and planning are key. Moving into a new house, condo or apartment with less square footage than what one currently has calls for decisions on sorting out “trash from treasure.”
Julia Westover, director of sales and marketing for The Sheridan at Eastside has found a way to help seniors who are wanting to downsize and move into the senior living community. “Rethink the process of moving,” she says. “Most people think, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m so overwhelmed because I’ve gotta downsize, clean this out, gotta, gotta, gotta.’ I say to them, ‘If you don’t have to sell your home prior to moving, go ahead and move into our community. Bring what you want…Invite your family to come in and take the pieces they want. Now you’ve removed yourself from the house emotionally. It really cuts down that stress for you.’”
Westover says for many residents, the whole downsizing process is one of the hardest things to do. “I call that appropriate-sizing,” she said. “We’ve collected all these things because we wanted them. The next generation does not. We’re like, ‘I’ve got to downsize, but you need to appropriate-size.’”
Once the children and grandchildren and others have taken the items they want, Westover recommends holding an estate sale and once that is done, the remaining items can be donated to Goodwill or another charity organization.
“This is something I came up with because I watched how emotional the whole process was for them,” Westover said about seniors. She said she is talking now to a woman who wants to move to The Sheridan at Eastside who will call to say she’s coming and then the next day call again to say she is not because she is not “ready to get rid of” her things.
“It’s just because it’s so emotional and they can’t wrap their heads around going through the process,” Westover said. “Rethink your process and make it easier. Remove yourself from it. Once you move out of the house and away from your things, it’s so much easier to forget about them. When you’re sitting there looking at them, you’re attached to them. We all are. Heaven forbid I start to clean. I’ll open a box and I’ll read everything in it. You just sit there and all the emotions are there.”
JOYCE SINGLETON UNPACKS BOXES IN HER NEW HOME AT THE SHERIDAN AT EASTSIDE
Westover says when she talks with prospective residents and guides them on a tour of The Sheridan at Eastside, she tells them her idea of moving into the senior living community first and then dealing with those things left behind later.
“They say, ‘You make that sound so much easier,’” Westover said.
“Just the thought of it becomes so much easier. I’ve had so many people who are now residents tell me, ‘Julia, I did exactly as you said and it was so much easier.’”
Located at 1900 Tree Lane in Snellville, The Sheridan at Eastside is an upscale senior living community that offers three distinct neighborhoods, including independent living with its villa-style housing options, assisted living and its award-winning Memory Care community. The Sheridan at Eastside also offers a short-term care option where those considering moving into the community can get acquainted with it before calling it home, or it serves as a resource for caregivers who might need to travel or take a break from their duties. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit https://www.seniorlifestyle.com/property/georgia/the-sheridan-at-eastside.
Whether making plans to downsize, or just get the jump on clearing out the clutter, experts offer the following tips:
Purge. Rent a dumpster at the onset of your downsizing or decluttering project. It will allow you to easily dispose of any unnecessary things without having to make a bunch of trips to the local dump.
Go through everything. From the basement to the attic, sort through every item to determine what you actually use and what you no longer need and separate your wants from what you need.
There are several organizational methods to help sort through your belongings. The one-a-day method is just as it says. Let go of one item per day or let go of the number of items that corresponds with the date, such as five items on the fifth of the month; 10 items on the 10th, etc. Another method recommends decluttering by category, such as clothes, sentimental items, books and other groupings. The four-box method gives options on what to do with an item by only allowing four choices. Those options are usually keep, donate, trash or recycle and sell.
Experts recommend focusing on one room at a time or even smaller projects within a room, such as going through DVDs and video games in the family room or going through shoes in a bedroom closet. Bring in help if you need it. You can make it a family event and invite your children and grandchildren to help sort through everything. They might enjoy hearing stories about certain items and heirlooms.