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Assisted Living

Checklist for Helping a Parent Downsizing for a Move to Assisted Living

Now that your parent or loved one has decided to take the big step of moving into an assisted living community, the real work begins. The process of downsizing can be overwhelming at any age, but when one has spent decades (or a lifetime) in a large home, it can be especially challenging. However, with a little planning, streamlining and simplification, downsizing your loved one’s belongings for a move to assisted living can be well-managed, organized, and less stressful. 

Use this downsizing checklist to help you navigate this complex process. Aftertall, everything just feels easier when it’s on a checklist, doesn’t it?  

1. Plan Ahead

Before you begin downsizing, plan ahead. Establish a timeline for when each stage of the downsizing process needs to be completed and when you will need third party movers, organizers or sellers to arrive. 

To ensure that you are right-sizing your loved ones belongings to fit into the new space, start here by: 

  • Walking the new floor plan together to get an idea of the space
  • Making measurements of the floor plan as necessary
  • Making an inventory of existing belongings
  • Measuring large furniture items to ensure they will fit new space
  • Making a “must have” list of items that are required for the new space 
  • Establishing the scope of the project to determine if there will be a need for third-party organizers or sellers
  • Creating a timeline for when downsizing should be completed 

Once you know when your downsizing project needs to be completed, you can back into the other dates for completing each stage. Stages can be broken down into rooms, starting with the least-used rooms and moving to those that see the most use. 

Your list may look something like this: 

  • Attic
  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Storage closets
  • Den
  • Bedrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms

Sentimental items and collectibles may require special attention. For large collections, ask your parent or loved one what their three or four favorite pieces are, and encourage them to bring those with them and re-gift or donate the rest. Similarly, items of sentimental value can be given a new life with friends or family. That way, your loved one knows that their belongings are in good hands and being properly appreciated. 

2. Keep, Toss, Donate or Sell

As you go through each room of the home, you will want to determine what to do with each of the belongings you encounter. Some will be kept and moved to the new residence. Most, however, will need to be donated, sold, thrown out or given away to other family members.

In fact, this is a good time to speak with your parent or loved one about beloved family heirlooms that they want to pass down. Items with great sentimental value that they want to pass down can be set aside and the family members they are bequeathing them to can be contacted. Give those family members a deadline by which they need to pick up items. 

3. Organize Help from Friends and Family

Family and friends are excellent resources to help you and your loved one during the downsizing process. After you have completed the first steps, you’ll have a good idea of the size of the project you are undertaking and the timeline. 

Assign family and friends to specific tasks, such as hauling away items that need to be thrown out, tagging items to be donated or contacting people who will need to pick up any heirlooms. 

4. Contact Third-Party Organizers and Sellers

While family and friends are invaluable support during a process like this, sometimes professional help is necessary. A professional organizer can help you and your loved one be more objective about which items need to go and which can stay. This may also help reduce friction between you and your parent or loved one. Neutral third parties can help reduce the emotional weight of this process. 

Third-party sellers can also be helpful. Many services will come and pick up salable items and auction them for you. You will then receive a portion of the final auction price. Additionally, there are many charitable organizations that will come and pick up gently-used items for donation. Call ahead of time to see if they will do so in your area. 

5. Limit New Purchases 

If your parent enjoys regular shopping trips, now is the time to encourage them to cut back on purchases, at least until after the move. Bringing more items into the house as you are downsizing can make it more frustrating for everyone involved. Encourage them to wait until they are settled into their new space before bringing in new items. Once they are living in their new residence, they will have a better understanding of what items they may still require (and what can actually fit!). 

Explore Assisted Living Options at Village on the Green 

At Village on the Green, we offer residents an exceptional level of support, including personalized wellness plans and engaging amenities and services to ensure they live life to the fullest. The best way to know if our community is right for your loved one is to see it for yourself. Come and explore our expansive grounds, walk through a sample residence and enjoy a meal at one of our dining venues. Contact us to book a tour and get answers to your questions, or use the form below. 


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