seniors with calculator and papers

Often the only thing standing in the way of an older adult moving to a smaller house is all the stuff stored in the attic, basements, closets and unused rooms.

Yes, downsizing and moving is a big undertaking for both the body and the mind but good news is that there’s lots of help out there to get you into a more manageable home.

Adult children and grandchildren are often called into service, and if they are willing and available to assist good for you. But if finances allow you almost might want to consider hiring a pro, just as you would enlist the help of a Realtor when selling your house.

Senior Move Managers® assists older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or “aging in place.” The National Association of Senior Move Managers has members throughout the United States.

Depending on your needs, a Senior Move Manager® will help

  • Develop an overall move or “age in place” plan
  • Organize, sort and downsize
  • Arrange for the disposal of unwanted items through auction, estate sale, buy-out, consignment, donation, or a combination of the above
  • Interview, schedule and oversee movers
  • Arrange shipments and storage
  • Unpack and set up the new home

Resources for You and Your Family

Even if a professional is hired for some of the tasks, families are often at the forefront of moving an older parent or relative to a smaller home or retirement community. The Family Caregiver Alliance® has put together a comprehensive checklist for families and caregivers.

“Six months or a year prior to moving is not too early to start this process, regardless of where your parent is planning to move, or even if your family is still deciding,” the Alliance recommends.

Here are 5 other tips from the Alliance:

  1. Start a separate notebook and keep it handy so all your notes are in one place;
  2. Make a floorplan or template of the new home with tentative locations for major furniture (when in doubt, select pieces that have storage space or multiple uses);
  3. Divide furniture and possessions into four categories (either on paper or in a corner of the house) – definitely save, possibly save, recycle (sell, donate, give away) and discard.
  4. Don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of photographs, old letters and other memorabilia as this sorting is time consuming and emotionally draining. Whittle down a bit if you can, then pack up and sort after the move;
  5. Greatly reduce the number of kitchen items if your parent is going to a residence that serves meals.

When It Comes to Your “Treasures”  

The value of your fine china, solid wood bedroom set, antique lamps and the like are in memories not in money. The secondhand market is full of these furnishings and the demand just isn’t there. Today’s young adults and families are mobile and have less living space. They want streamline furniture (think IKEA and Target) that’s easy to assemble and move.

Here are recycling suggestions from Elizabeth Stewart, author of “No Thanks Mom: The Top Ten Objects Your Kids Do NOT Want (and what to do with them).”

Hummel’s, Precious Moments and other porcelain figurine collections might make a good donation to a retirement community that does a gift exchange.

You might be able to sell heavy, dark, antique furniture at a secondhand or consignment shop, but you won’t get much for it. “Donate it and take a non-cash charitable contribution using fair market valuation. Use reporting services such as P4A.com to find where this class of furniture sells,” Elizabeth recommends.

For silverware and china, consider contacting a replacement matching service that buys per piece.