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You are here: Home > Organizing Advice > Downsizing > Downsizing Doesn't Mean You Have to Get Rid of Everything
Downsizing Doesnít Mean You Have to Get Rid of Everything

Vickie Dellaquila
Organization Rules, Inc

Are you an adult child who needs to help your parents downsize and move or are you someone who needs to downsize and  move from your large home to a smaller home? Is it overwhelming to think about starting this process of downsizing and relocating? Would it be easier for you just to toss it all out in the trash and start over again?  Many seniors and their adult children are faced with the task of downsizing and relocating to a smaller home, apartment, or retirement community. Instead of throwing your memories in the trash, make a plan to start this process.

Making the decision to downsize and move to a smaller home or retirement community can be very difficult. Once you have come to that decision, you need to make a plan. What should you do with all your belongings?  Many seniors have a 2 story, 5 bedroom home with 50 years worth of dishes, furniture, slides, collections, and adult childrenís past term papers and toys.  You realize that all of these things are not going to fit in your new home.  How do you start the process of dealing with all of this?

Consider these points when starting the process of downsizing and moving on.
  • A good way to start is to get someone to help you through the downsizing process because it can be overwhelming. You need help and support.
  • Think about what you are really need. Will you need place settings for 12 or will 6 maybe work? Do you really need three turkey roasters? When is the last time you made Thanksgiving dinner or do you always go to your sonís home for Thanksgiving?
  • Consider donations to social services agencies. You may be able to use the donation as a tax deduction and you are helping someone else in need.
  • Why not give pieces of furniture or other possessions to family members or friends that have admired them for years? If your granddaughter has loved your china hutch for years, why not give to her now and see the joy and happiness that it brings her today?
  • Adult children need to pick up their stuff out of your attic or spare bedroom! Unless you have decided to go into the rental storage business, adult children need to get their stuff out of your home.
  • Do not overwhelm yourself. Start with baby steps. Work a little each day on a section of your home: a drawer, or a closet shelf.
  • If you feel overwhelmed looking at a pile of papers that you need to sort through, start with just 15 minutes. Set an egg timer for 15 minutes, sort through the pile and then stop working when the timer goes off. You will make some progress and can start again the next day. Before you know it, you will have sorted through dresser drawers.
  • Remember every item you own requires your time, energy, maintenance, and money. Decide if the item is worth keeping.
While downsizing can be an emotionally and physically overwhelming process, it can be achieved through planning and organization.  Taking it one step at a time with some assistance can make the downsizing process a little easier.  

Vickie Dellaquila is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Organization Rules, Inc, located in Pittsburgh, PA. Her company provides senior downsizing, relocation and residential organizing services. She is also the author of the book, Donít Toss My Memories in the Trash-A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move and the Moving Workbook.  For more information, visit or call 412-913-0554.