Downsizing — it doesn’t have to be a stressful move

The key to a happier, less stressful move is having a good support network

When it is time to move, seniors can be faced with both physical and emotional issues that can seem overwhelming. If they are healthy mentally and physically, the tasks can be more manageable. But if they are downsizing because of illness, it can be more challenging for everyone involved.

The key to a happier, less stressful move is having a good support network, knowing what resources are available and working at a slow pace.

Emotions can include feeling helpless, angry, dreading, hostile, bitter, confused, overwhelmed, ambivalent, sad, anxious, scared, uncertain, excited, joyful, delighted, enthusiastic, optimistic, delighted and relieved.

The more organized and prepared a senior feels the more positive the move will be.

Some common issues encountered can be any or all of the following:

• Where shall I start? I have 50 years of household items in my house!

• Who will help me pack and unpack my belongings?

• What will I do with all the furniture I am not taking with me?

• My children do not want my silver or china — what are my options?

• What to do with my old TV, computer and electronics?

• Should I take all my photos?

• My basement or garage is a mess — how do I tidy it out?

• Where can I donate all my books?

These are all legitimate concerns for anyone who is moving, let alone a senior.

The best way of handling most of these issues is to tackle one room at a time, slowly. Perhaps hiring someone who can assist you with your move, who can help you sort through your lifetime of memories. Seniors deserve to be spoken to with respect, kindness and patience and need to be treated compassionately, during what can be a challenging time for some.

Whether it is their children, friends or an outside resource it all comes down to being organized.

For example: confirming movers, elevators are booked, parking available and having someone at the other end helping to unpack and organize items to the individual’s satisfaction.

Laurie Gunton is a certified relocation and transition specialist, who specializes in helping seniors downsize in Central Toronto.

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