Eventually, many if not most seniors consider downsizing their home to better accommodate lifestyle changes as they age. Whether prompted by escalating maintenance costs or a desire to be nearer grandchildren, the process presents some major challenges.
Plan the work, work the plan
Advanced planning can mean the difference between confusion and smooth sailing, regardless of who manages the transition, the seniors themselves, or their children or loved ones. The decision-making process can lead to time, money, and effort saved, or in some cases, time and money well spent.
Often, children of seniors take weeks off work, to save the expense of senior moving managers which can run into thousands of dollars. When seniors are proactive however, there will be no question about being prepared, come the day they no longer have the ability or enthusiasm to adequately care for their home.
Downsizing Specialists are an option
These firms are especially helpful if there is an illness or physical disability which necessitates immediate action. Several Tulsa senior downsizing specialists are available to help, but may be unnecessary, if enough time is allowed for planning before that day comes.
When it comes to selling the larger older home, and purchasing the smaller new home, I’m a senior real estate professional who has been through the process of downsizing myself, as well as helping many others do the same. Here are my recommendations to help you avoid learning the hard way.
Give yourself time
When seniors face housing transitions, packing up a lifetime of memories alone or calling senior downsizing specialists can be a difficult decision to make. To lessen the stress of the process, extra time should be allowed for what can be a lengthy process, from a couple of weeks to a month or more.
It’s normal to have an emotional attachment to belongings. Plan to inspect each item in your home individually, at least for a short period. This strengthens the decision-making process. Many find it empowering to focus on each item for a second before deciding to keep it or toss it. This helps increase confidence as you move from things frequently used to things in storage for years.
The best strategy, at first, is to focus on areas where things are stored for immediate use. It could be a linen closet or mudroom. Attics and garages are the bugbear of any organizing project, and if it’s been in storage for long, and hasn’t been used, or even looked at it, chances are there is an unaddressed emotional attachment.
Practice first on the smallest rooms, and proceed slowly. There’s less likely to be nostalgic feelings about a spare set of sheets than a set of model trains or Christmas decorations. Attics and garages are also not usually climate controlled, so if it isn’t Fall or Spring, it is a good idea to save these rooms for the last couple of weeks before the move.
Between culling the best sheets from linen closets and hauling the junk out of the garage, in the middle are those rooms that would be eliminated completely. If the new condo or townhouse will eliminate an office or a bedroom, there is a helpful strategy, the maxim “work backwards”.
The idea is to not get in the habit of picking out the unwanted things. This is a temptation and a trap. Instead, when sorting through the bigger items including furniture, focus on picking out the treasures; the items that are truly wanted or needed. When entire rooms are eliminated, the furniture will have to go; the idea is to pick out and pack the treasures toot-sweet, leaving everything else for the curb or estate sale. My advice, tackle the attic or other difficult areas first if you’re intrepid.
This is the battle cry of a successful moving senior. There are no “maybes”. With some progress and resolve have been established, nostalgia will inevitably and inexorably try to creep back in. However, the executor of every successful downsizing plan has room for only two piles: “yes” and “no”. The logic is easy to understand. A “maybe” pile will invariably end up larger than the other two piles. If this happens, difficult decisions are being avoided and items end up just being moved around the room. Only if an item is used regularly, or is an obvious “yes”, should it be selected. Promising to address the question after the move is a trap and not very practical.
It might appear obvious to collectors who are downsizing that there are essentially only two collections: practical things, and valuable things. Is a collection of ladles as important as a collection of Hummel figurines? Applying what can be called “the wisdom of favorites” to both utility and completion goes for both a favorite ladle and that Hummel figurine.
People typically have duplicates of everything in the kitchen. It’s a good idea to practice there before moving on to the hope chest. Deciding between a porcelain ladle received as a wedding gift and countless kitchen spares prepares the way for the week that will likely be spent in a stuffy attic. The same question asked with the ladle can be posed to a collection of figurines: “Which is the favorite?”
For things difficult to part with, I recommend clients take high-resolution pictures of the items they’ll sell or pass on and put them in a coffee-table album or digitize them for easy access. Then, when moved, those images will be ready at hand instead of hidden away in a box.
Don’t be overwhelmed
Whether you are a senior, or the responsible child of a senior or seniors, the idea of downsizing can be daunting. Please know that expert help is available to assist you in navigating the process. With thirty years of listing and selling homes and having downsized myself, I am ideally suited to help you not just with the real estate details but also to support you in a myriad of other ways that you will find comforting and reassuring. I’m only a phone call away, 918.605.5529.
Some helpful links
Check out these local Tulsa senior downsizing specialists as well as some national specialists with offices in Tulsa. Some of them offer estate planning and estate sales.
Paying for Senior Care Although seniors in Tulsa spend more than the average U.S. resident on healthcare, the overall cost of living is nearly 17% less than the national average, with housing being nearly half the national average. Considering that Tulsa has 42% more physicians per capita than most of the country, seniors have a surplus of options for primary care doctors.
First Choice Relocation with bases in the Broken Arrow, Tulsa, and the Oklahoma City area is a full service moving company with a focus on seniors.
Caring Transitions boasting over 100 bases nationally, have moving managers in Tulsa who also offer estate sale and auction services for seniors.
Craters and Freighters have been Tulsa senior downsizing specialists helping seniors downsize since 1990. Visit their site to learn more about this trusted company.
National Association of Senior Move Managers are the expert, “go-to” senior moving managers. If the move involves distance, and calling Tulsa senior downsizing specialists seems daunting, these senior moving managers offer a treasure house of free resources and information to help in the decision-making process.