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April 21, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Tips on downsizing when moving from the family home

By KATHY SMITH

Moving and relocating  to a smaller home later in life can have challenges. Instead of buying something larger to accommodate a growing family, older adults are more interested in having less space with fewer home maintenance responsibilities.

For some, selling the family home can result from the death of a loved one, a disability or an illness. Others may be moving to be near family or experience a new retirement lifestyle. Regardless of the reason for moving, downsizing from a family home can be a physically and mentally exhausting experience.

For many, possessions have accumulated over the years and not everything can be moved. What results is the need to eliminate personal items through donations or selling.

Here are some suggestions on how to get started and what to do:

• Start with rooms that you use the least. Begin the sorting process in these rooms and avoid cluttering the areas you use regularly.

• Start with large items. Identify what you will do with the furniture before you start on the knickknacks. You will feel more progress.

• Have a sorting system. Use stickers, make piles or make lists of what will be kept, given away or a list of what is undecided.

• Write down family history. Write down special memories or any family history associated with special items. This will be helpful for future generations and will contribute to the value of the family keepsakes.

• Work in scheduled blocks of times. Plan to sort items for periods of not more than two hours at a time. The process of going through items is difficult and draining. You will feel less overwhelmed and make better decisions.

• Start early and don’t rush yourself. Plan plenty of time to sift through things. Take time to look at old pictures, read letters and grieve losses. If you can’t decide what to do with an item, set aside and return to it later.

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