Downsizing and Organizing By Julie Riber

02 Oct 2012 5:01 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

Statistics show over the next 20 years 76 million Americans will retire. Many will downsize.Downsizing can be a very difficult event for many seniors. If they have lived in their current home for a long period of time there are probably many possessions stored. Whether a move is already planned or a senor is just planning ahead, simple steps can be taken to make it less stressful. Many of the seniors today lived through the depression so they have kept everything. Many think they might need those items in the future, but rarely do. It is not uncommon to find bills, magazines and papers from 50 or more years ago. By dividing the downsizing project into small parts, the feeling of being overwhelmed, should be lessened. Start with the furniture. Removal of furniture that is not used or is crowding the room should be dealt with first. If there are some pieces that some relatives are fond of and are no longer being used to their fullest, giving them away will be the best solution. Look to see if any pieces of furniture are in the way of getting around. Moving some furniture out or just in a new location might allow the senior to move about more freely. Rugs are dangerous, so remove these next. If they are valuable, consider selling them or giving them to relatives who have expressed interest. Divide each bedroom into closets and stored items. As the stored items are gone through, ask how long it has been in storage unused and if a move occurred today, would the the item be needed? Antiques and valuable items can be auctioned or if enough exist, an estate sale might be a good idea.

Discuss pictures with the family to decide what pictures everyone wants or if there is one particular family member involved in the history of the pictures or genealogy. Eliminating some of the pictures in boxes will free up some needed storage space or make the area more accessible and safe.
Arrange for shredding of old papers. Eliminate the fears of identity theft and have any papers with personal information shredded. Many communities have shredding days that are free or charge a nominal fee for a charity donation. Take advantage of these. Some companies will come to your home to shred and remember to ask your tax preparer how long to keep your taxes. Most will say 7 years, but ask yours to be sure.
The kitchen should also be tackled. How many dishes are used daily and are they in a good location? Eliminate pots and pans never used and place those used in a space that is easy to reach. If getting on the hands and knees is no longer an option, move the items used to a better location and use the lower cupboard to store items used only when guests are present. Someone will be happy to get the items for you at that time. If getting on a chair or step stool is unsafe, follow the same rules as above. Make those items used daily to a place that is within easy reach.
Make life simple, downsize today while time is on your side. It only takes an hour a day or so and in no time, you are living a clutter free lifestyle.