6 Tips for Helping Your Loved One Downsize Their Possessions

Getting Rid of Clothes

Earlier this year, the world was hit by the “Marie Kondo craze” thanks to a limited series on Netflix.

In the show, families are taken through their piles of belongings, discarding everything that doesn’t “spark joy” to create a more peaceful, harmonious home.

While simply owning less is a choice for many people, for seniors who are moving into smaller apartments or homes, or even those who just have too much “stuff,” downsizing isn’t necessarily a choice.

If you have a loved one facing a need to downsize their possessions, here are 6 tips for making the process a little less stressful:

Start Early

Even if your loved one isn’t planning to move for a few months, or isn’t planning to move at all, it’s best to get the downsizing process started as soon as possible.

Sorting through possessions and deciding which need to stay and which need to go can take quite a bit of time and effort. The less time you have to tackle the task, the more pressure you and your loved one will feel, and the more stressful the endeavor will be.

Instead, if you have time to get everything organized and methodically work through what items are sticking around, your loved one will be more relaxed about the whole process. This will decrease stress levels and can make them less resistant to letting go of individual items.

Additionally, giving yourself plenty of time for the process means you have the opportunity to secure extra storage if you end up needing it. 

Don’t Push it

People can have intense, sometimes nonsensical connections to their belongings.

These connections can cause a great deal of friction, and even anger, as you attempt to get your loved one to let loose certain belongings.

If you’re struggling with getting your loved one to let go of items, try planning at least two passes through the items to make discards.

On the first pass, unless something is dangerous, poses a health hazard, or is broken beyond repair, don’t fight your loved one too hard on getting rid of it. Allow them to move through the process as best they can.

If they don’t let go of enough items to satisfy any space requirements, take another pass through the belongings.

Going through the process once may awaken some sense of freedom in letting certain things go and an item that was impossible to release on the first time through may be much easier to let go of the second time around.

Start Slow

Taking your loved one through their travel souvenirs or gifts from their spouse at the beginning of the decluttering process may cause more resistance and heartache than you intend. 

This can lead to your loved one putting up resistance to the entire process, and even lead to emotional outbursts.

Instead of starting with sentimental items, tackle something that’s more practical and can be easier to get rid of.

Good starting points include linens (towels, sheets, etc.), kitchen items (pots, pans, etc.), or office supplies.

Leave the knick-knacks, clothing, and other sentimental items for later in the process.

Set Goals

Does your loved one need to be ready to move out in three months? Or are they downsizing from 2,500 square feet of space to 1,000?

Work with your loved one to set realistic, manageable goals for decluttering and you’ll both have something to work toward.

Simply saying, “We’re going to clean this place up and get rid of things” is open to interpretation.

Having a specific goal in mind (getting rid of 15 boxes worth of stuff, cutting possessions in half, etc.) gives everyone a picture of what the end will look like and can help make difficult decisions easier.

Keep Memories, Not Items

Often, it isn’t the item itself that people become attached to, but the memories they have of that item.

Whether it’s memories of the person who gave them the item, or of using the item, those thoughts are difficult to separate from the item itself when decluttering.

If your loved one needs to downsize due to limited space or other factors that require getting rid of sentimental pieces, take photos of the items before you get rid of them. Put them all into a book or digital file so your loved one can look at them anytime they want.

Secure Valuables

Regardless of how little your loved one is keeping, there always will be certain priceless valuables.

From wedding rings to family photos, create a special, clearly labelled box for all those items.

Set it in a safe space – and consider keeping it off-site – so it doesn’t get mixed in with items being donated or moved elsewhere.

Exceptional In-Home Care in Central Maryland

At Advanced Nursing & Home Support, we know how important your loved one’s surroundings can be. That’s why we offer high-quality, skilled in-home care for a variety of needs. Whether your loved one needs a little help around the house and some companionship or nearly round-the-clock care, our dedicated team has what it takes to give your loved one the best care in the comfort of home. Call today!

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