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Downsizing and Decluttering for Seniors before a Move

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Tips for Decluttering for Seniors
  2. Enlist help
  3. Take your time
  4. Don't keep things solely for the next generation
  5. Take photos
  6. Digitize whatever you can
  7. Set a limit on the things you can keep
  8. Do away with duplicate items
  9. Do one small area at a time
  10. Consider selling things online
  11. Step-by-Step Decluttering Plan
  12. Step 1 Set aside a separate bag for essentials
  13. Step 2 Sort items into different boxes
  14. Step 3 Start with your attic or garage
  15. Step 4 Declutter your closet
  16. Step 5 Move to the smallest room in the house
  17. Step 6 Move to the other rooms
  18. Step 7 Store, sell, donate
  19. Conclusion
Downsizing and Decluttering for Seniors before a Move

As a senior, you have probably gathered a lot of mementos from your travels and life experiences over the years. Each one has memories of a particular happening, and some may be sentimental items such as family heirlooms.

While having all these items is wonderful, it can make the process of moving difficult, especially if you are moving into a retirement community or into a smaller home than your current one.

It's hard to decide what to keep and let go of, especially if you've lived in the same place for years.

Decluttering can be a tedious process, so here are some tips to help make the downsizing process a little easier.

Tips for Decluttering for Seniors

Enlist help

Decluttering projects are challenging, and trying to do it yourself can be a stressful chore. To avoid this stress, consider enlisting help from family and friends.

It can be especially nice to have family members help you declutter, as you may be able to give them any items that have sentimental value for your family, but which you no longer wish to keep.

Take your time

It's a bad idea to try to rush the decluttering process. Not only does it add to the stress, but it might also cause you to make hasty decisions about what to keep or get rid of that you later regret.

So, take your time to schedule your downsizing process months in advance. And remember that you don't have to finish it in a single day. You have plenty of time available.


Don't keep things solely for the next generation

You might have a granddaughter or grandson to whom you wish to hand over some things. But it's probably not a good idea if they're not yet of age.


Because those items will most likely spoil or go out of fashion by the time they're grown. And you can't hold onto them since you may be moving into a senior living community.

So, you should either give those items to your adult children or sell them off and save the money for them. That can be your financial contribution to their college fund.

Take photos

Photos are reminders of our past and play an important role in our future. They serve as nostalgic reminders of our history and how far we've come. That's why it's a great idea to take pictures as you downsize.

Snap your bedrooms, sitting room, etc. Leave no place out.

Aside from the memories photos preserve, they also make the decluttering process a bit more bearable.

Digitize whatever you can

Two major sources of clutter are old tapes and papers.

These papers could be old receipts, tax records, bills, personal documents, and the like. This towering paper pile causes clutter.

But with this digitization era, it's now easy to get rid of paper clutter. You can scan important documents and receipts and do away with the paper documents.

Video recordings, movies, music, photos, and other keepsakes can also be digitized. You can either do it yourself or pay a digitization service to do it for you. Better yet, enlist help from your family (see tip #1)!

Set a limit on the things you can keep

It's okay to keep some items. But decluttering will have no effect if you still keep too much stuff, and deciding what to keep is an emotional task.

So, before you start downsizing, decide how much you want to keep. It could be items enough to fill a closet. Or you could set a specific number limit.

Do away with duplicate items

If you have duplicates or unused items, it's best to get rid of one. Having more than one of something just adds to the clutter.

You may want to put all your duplicates into one box. Then, sort through each item, and discard the excess items.

Do one small area at a time

Start with one area, and work your way around.

For example, if you're planning to move to a smaller home, start with your bedroom. This is where you spend most of your time.

And once you're done with that, move on to your living room, kitchen, bathroom, and so on.

Then, when you're done with those areas, you can move on to your garage, attic, basement, and so on. By decluttering one area at a time, the task becomes much less overwhelming.


Consider selling things online

Consider selling some of your things online. There is a huge market for secondhand items, and if your things are in good condition, you can sometimes get a surprisingly good amount of money from them.

There are several websites that offer free listings. You can list your items there, and people interested in buying can contact you directly.

Step-by-Step Decluttering Plan

Follow these steps to organize your decluttering efforts:

Step 1: Set aside a separate bag for essentials

When you start decluttering, many items that you use for daily living may get lost.

To prevent this, create a special bag or box for items you'll need for your daily life. Then put essentials such as toiletries, medications, and clothes in this bag.

Step 2: Sort items into different boxes

Have four different boxes to make decluttering easy. Then label them:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Trash

Sort your things into these boxes as you declutter. You can use garbage bags for the "trash" items if you don't have any extra boxes.

You can donate the items still in perfect condition to charity. And those unwanted items which you think have some value can be sold on online platforms such as eBay or in a garage sale.

Step 3: Start with your attic or garage

In most cases, the attic and garage have the most clutter. So, it makes sense to start from there.

Before you start, wear some protective gear to protect you from inhaling the dust some items may have accumulated over the years.

Step 4: Declutter your closet

After you've tackled the attic and garage, it's time to move on to your closet.

Start with your clothes. Go through each item of clothing and ask yourself when was the last time you wore it. If you can't remember, or it's been over a year, get rid of it. The same goes for shoes.

Then move on to decluttering your jewelry box. Go through each piece of jewelry and ask yourself the same question. When was the last time you wore it?

If you can't remember, or it's been over a year, then get rid of it by selling, gifting, or donating it.

Finally, go through your linen closets, sorting through your sheets and towels and anything else that might be stored there.

Step 5: Move to the smallest room in the house

In most cases, this is the bathroom.

Start by decluttering your medicine cabinet. If you have any expired medication, toss it out. Donate any unopened items to a local shelter or women's center.

Then go through your makeup and toiletries. Toss out any expired makeup or unused products.

Step 6: Move to the other rooms

After the bathroom, move on to decluttering your bedroom.

Start with your nightstand. Get rid of any books you no longer want or need. Then move on to your dresser. Do the same with your clothes as you did in the closet.

If you have any furniture in your room that you no longer want or need, sell it or donate it.

The last rooms to declutter are the living room, dining room, and kitchen.

Start with the living room. Go through each item in the room and decide if you want to keep it or not. If you have any furniture you no longer want or need, sell it or donate it.

Then move on to the dining room. If you have any china that you have never used, or haven't used in years, donate it to a local senior center.

Last but not least is the kitchen. Go through each item in the kitchen and decide if you want to keep it or not. If you have any appliances that you no longer want or need, sell them or donate them. And you can donate any unperishable food items to local food banks around your area.


Step 7: Store, sell, donate

Now that you've separated all of your things into their respective piles, it's time to decide what to do with them.

Most items that you are keeping will probably go with you to your new residence, but if you can't bring all of them, you may need to store some.

You can rent a storage space for these items. Or give them to family and friends to keep for you if they have built-in storage options. You can also store them at a local thrift shop.

If you want to sell any items, you can have a garage sale or sell them online.

Donate the rest to nonprofit preschools, veterans centers, domestic violence shelters, etc.


Downsizing before a move as a senior can be a daunting task. But with a little help and planning, you can make sure you get it done right.

For help with your upcoming move, contactA-1 Auto Transport. We provide professional moving and shipping services, including for long-distance moves. Contact us any time to find out how we can help.Downsizing And Decluttering For Seniors Before A Move

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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