As 2014 draws to a close and we begin to look toward 2015, many of us make resolutions to accomplish things in the New Year. The start of the year is a great time to benefit from the renewed energy to clean up and let go of things we no longer need. Reducing our possessions can lead to clearer thinking and a greater sense of well-being in our homes. It is also a great way to prepare for a potential move, which is becoming a more common scenario for seniors today. For health, safety or financial reasons, seniors may have to move in with adult children, into a smaller home or an assisted living community. Leaving a family home where they have resided for 20 years or more is a daunting task, a great part of which is deciding what to do with the accumulated possessions. This list from Karen Martin at Life Moves LLC offers 10 tips for seniors who want to start downsizing:

  1. 1. Start with personal papers and photographs. These often take the most time to read through and decide whether to keep, save for your adult children to review or shred.
  1. 2. Make sure you are comfortable and have enough light. Bring over an extra lamp, and you will see much better, and the task will be much easier.
  1. 3. Use a long portable folding table to spread out your items. If you are removing things from the closet, the table can be a handy place on which to put your found items. Working at waist height, rather than bending to the floor and back up will save you energy.
  1. 4. For garbage, I like to use the 3-millimeter thick contractor bags because they are sturdy. Hang them off the back of a chair for tossing items away. If you are in the kitchen, you can secure the bag to the dishwasher or stove front and close the door to hold them in place.
  1. 5. I recommend using shallow flat top boxes, which are sturdy and stackable, and found in the produce section of your local supermarket. You can place items in them quickly and see what you have at a glance. They are easy to pick up and move out of the way later.
  1. 6. It takes a lot of time to sort through your clothing and accessories. If you haven't worn something for two or three years, give it to people who need and will appreciate it. Local churches, synagogues and charities will accept clean, gently worn items.
  1. 7. Ask family members for help. Those who live distances away can help you during holiday time, special celebrations or visits.
  1. 8. It is a good idea to consider the weather when you go to work in attics or garages. During the summer, morning time is the coolest time to go up into the attic. In winter, a sunny afternoon time is best.
  1. 9. Do not have your adult children order a dumpster and just start tossing items away. An expert appraiser can determine the worth of your antiques, collectibles and ephemera (papers of historical significance).
  1. 10. Most importantly, enjoy reminiscing while you read, touch and feel items you haven't seen in years. You can capture the rich history of your life story in creative ways.

Downsizing does not have to be a negative experience. With advance planning, a firm resolve to pare down and a little help, it can be a liberating and joyful experience that enables us to be more mobile if the need occurs. As we prepare for a new year, take a look around your space and see if some downsizing would be welcome.

If you would like to learn more about dependable in-home help for the elderly and the many benefits of professional senior care at home or dementia and Alzheimer’s care, call Senior Helpers of San Luis Obispo County to speak to a senior care specialist today 805-461-5892!   The compassionate senior care specialists at Senior Helpers can also guide you through the process of receiving the Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Benefit if your elderly loved one is a veteran.   In-home senior care and in-home assisted living allows your loved one to stay in the comforts of their own home for as long as possible while receiving the level of care they need. Senior Helpers of San Luis Obispo County provides a wide range of services including Alzheimer’s and dementia care, personal assistance, companionship, and so much more to all areas of San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, Cambria, and surrounding areas. Visit for more information.

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