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5 Tips for Downsizing When You Move to Assisted Living in AZ

5 Tips for Downsizing When You Move to Assisted Living in AZ

Moving into an assisted living community can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve got 5 great tips for seniors on downsizing when you move into assisted living in Arizona.

Once the senior in your life has made the decision to move to an assisted living community, the next step is thinking about how to move them there. It can be an emotional process even with a lot of help, so planning and logistics become an important part of moving.

Moving from a full-size house to an apartment will require patience and forethought, so here are our favorite tips for seniors who are downsizing into a smaller living space:

1. Start Early

Even if your senior has only been in their home for a few years, clutter and possessions tend to build up. They say that a goldfish will grow to the right size for its bowl – so too will furniture, collectibles, art, books, and other objects. Not all of these are worth keeping, but not all of these should be tossed, either. Therefore, you have to go through it bit by bit. Not knowing where to start can overwhelm your senior, so it’s important to do a little bit at a time without getting paralyzed or bogged down. Take a look at this checklist for some ideas on items you can start to declutter.

The process may move very slowly. As your senior handles each item, they’re probably thinking about not only whether they have space for it in their future but all the memories they have of this particular thing. Try to make your decluttering sessions no longer than about three hours. That’s a good morning’s or afternoon’s work. Trying for a longer session might lead to decision fatigue, and something might be lost in the shuffle. 

This is emotional work, and recovery time is important. Otherwise, the whole process may stall.

2. The One-Year Rule

This is a way to tell if you’ll need that specific object in your new apartment. Ask yourself: have you used it in the last year, or has it languished in a closet or a cabinet where you can’t see it and never used it? 

If it’s a kitchen tool such as a baking dish, you may not even need it in your new senior living community if meals are provided. If it’s a novel you read once, maybe you know of someone who would like to read it so you can pass it along instead of just “getting rid of it.” For some, the thought of trashing items that can still be used and enjoyed makes the process of decluttering much more difficult, so having a “donate” or “give away” pile (instead of a “trash” pile) can help move things along. Make a plan and stick to it.

Keepsakes are a bit different, but they can take up a lot of space too. Maybe you have a closet full of home videotapes going back twenty or thirty years. Same with shelves of negatives or books full of snapshots – what do you do with them? In order to take them all and still save space, consider looking into having these items digitized. Do you have a lot of wall art? Maybe you can scan those items and load them onto a digital picture frame, which will scroll through them all day. You’ll be able to enjoy the art while also saving on space!

3. The New Dimensions

Before you start moving, you’ll want to know the shape of your new apartment. If you’re able to view a vacant apartment, you should go to get floor plans and get measurements for the dimensions of closets or if there are unusually shaped alcoves. There’s nothing worse than showing up and having furniture that doesn’t fit in the space.

You can also make sure to ask here about common differences between apartments. Will the walls be painted white? Is it possible to paint them another color, or does the community encourage art and wall hangings instead? What if your senior wants to bring their favorite light fixture; can they bring it and get assistance installing it? Can they get help mounting their TV or computer screen on the wall?

Logistics will also be important for moving in. How big is the elevator, and how big are the doorways? If you’ve resolved to bring one dresser that’s longer than typical and it doesn’t fit in the elevator or the door, you could be out of luck!

4. Make It Feel Like Home

In the old space, there may have been a lot more space and many more rooms than where they’re moving to. Your senior may have spent a lot of time decorating a sitting room or formal dining room that they don’t use very often. This may be a space that they’re proud of, but it doesn’t really feel like home. Where did they spend most of their time in their old home? Where do they feel safest and most comfortable? You should try to help them make their new space feel as comfortable as possible. If they have a favorite comfy chair by a window, aim to put that same chair by a window in the new space.

If these familiar chairs and other pieces of furniture could also use a facelift, this is a good time to do it. Maybe the favorite chair has some wear and tear – could it use a slipcover or a cheerful new blanket? The dresser is an old, familiar piece of furniture, but maybe it could use a coat of varnish (or even a coat of paint).

5. Design a Labeling System

No matter how organized you think you are, there’s going to be some kind of chaos during the actual move. While you’re packing, make sure you create a labeling system so you know where your important things are. There’s nothing worse than having to open fifteen boxes in order to find your bedding so you can go to sleep! An easy system would be to label each moving box with the contents and the room where it belongs.

At Mission at Agua Fria, residents receive comprehensive and respectful care, including a wide variety of programs and amenities. Everything is designed to help the senior in your life age in place with dignity. Our brand-new assisted living community is located in Peoria, AZ – contact us today to take a tour!