You have decided to make the move to assisted living – which is exciting! You’ll have everything you need to enjoy a full, active lifestyle, but with the added support of care and services designed to help you live confidently.
But now it’s time to downsize – which can be stressful! If you’re like most people, you’ve accumulated many possessions during your years in your current home. The idea of going through everything may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be, says Devon Sicard, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley.
“Downsizing your possessions can actually be a fun and joyful experience, if you’re in the right frame of mind about it,” she says. “Yes, it can be hard to leave a family home, but at the same time, you’re making a very positive move to provide yourself with the best possible lifestyle along with the support you need to stay independent. This is the perfect time to let go of the things in your house – and your life – that aren’t giving you joy. That way, when you move to your new place, you’ll be surrounded only by things that are meaningful and that you love.”
If you’re considering a move to assisted living or if you’ve already selected a community and are getting ready to dive into the downsizing process, here are some of our expert tips to help make the process manageable, enjoyable and smooth:
1. Start early.
If at all possible, start downsizing in advance – way in advance. If you begin the process before it’s strictly necessary, you’ll feel less rushed and will have a lot less stress weighing on you. Some of our residents have started the downsizing process a year or so in advance of their move to our community! Giving yourself plenty of time means that you have the opportunity to do several sweeps through your belongings if necessary, giving you that much more peace of mind about the process.
Even if you don’t have years of advance planning in place for your move, make sure that you leave yourself as much time as possible to do your downsizing. You don’t want to try and soldier through in a day or a weekend – that’s a recipe for burnout. Even if you currently live in a condo or apartment, the process will likely take longer than you expect. Expert downsizers say that you should plan for three weeks to a month, minimum, to complete the whole downsizing process.
2. Give yourself a “win.”
It’s tempting to start downsizing in the places you use the most, like your bedroom or the kitchen. However, it’s best to start small and give yourself a “win” by completing a tiny spot in record time. It’s best to tackle something like a linen closet, broom closet or a laundry room when you’re starting the process. You’ll have the endorphin boost of checking one room off your list, and it will give you a chance to see your progress grow. It’s also a great “test run” to gauge how much help you’ll need, how many boxes you’ll really require and the like.
3. Get rid of duplicates.
We have a tendency to collect multiples of items we use a lot. Think of sheets, towels, kitchen tools … the list can be endless. Start by tossing out anything that’s stained, broken or has simply run its course (you don’t want to take old sheets with you to your new apartment). Next, go through and look at what items you actually use on a regular basis. If you have items that you sometimes use maybe once a year, go ahead and get rid of it. If you need something like it in the future, you can always borrow one from friends or family (or buy a new one if you find out it’s absolutely necessary).
4. Say “no” to “maybe.”
When it comes to downsizing, you’ll need to be swift and brutal. “Maybes” are difficult when you’re trying to streamline your belongings. We know that there will be items that you hem and haw over. Many of them will pull at your heartstrings (think crayon drawings that your now-adult children drew in kindergarten). You may be tempted to put items aside to store in a storage unit. Our best advice? Don’t do it. If you do, you’ll find that your “maybe” pile ends up larger than your “keep” and “trash” piles combined. Listen to your gut and make quick decisions as you’re going through things. If you’re finding it too hard, consider enlisting friends or family members to help you “talk things out.”
5. Digitize your collections.
A lot of us have things we enjoy collecting, whether it’s spoons from the places we’ve traveled, colored glass or carved elephants. It can be hard to say goodbye to these things that have meaning to us, but understand that if you keep them, they’ll eat up a lot of valuable space (or will stay in a box in the closet). Instead, choose a few gems from your collection – the creme de la creme – and take high-quality photos of the rest of your collection. You can convert those photos into a beautiful coffee table book that allows you to revisit your collectables without having them physically with you. (Then you have fewer things to dust, too.)
6. Make it fun.
Downsizing can be a perfect opportunity to pass along family stories and heirlooms and make some great memories while you’re at it. If possible, enlist the help of friends and family to make the process a lot more fun. This is a great time to pass along heirlooms or special items to children and grandchildren – why wait until they read your will? You may be surprised at what items hold meaning for each individual. As you’re packing, feel free to talk about the stories of each item, share memories and reminisce about the good times you’ve had in the house. Even if your family members haven’t lived in the house for a long while, this is a chance for them to remember the past and say their goodbyes to the home they knew and loved.
Remember that it’s never too late or too early to start downsizing in anticipation of moving into assisted living. By looking at it as a positive experience, you can make this a beautiful way to turn the page and start a new, exciting chapter in your life.
Beautiful Riverfront Community
Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.
Celebrating Dynamic Living
Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.
Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.
Confidence of Care
The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.
For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.591.7113.