After you have made the decision to relocate to a retirement community, and have determined an ideal location to enjoy your new freedom, you will face one remaining hurdle: packing up, throwing out, and moving. After all, most of us have accumulated decades of belongings: furniture, clothes, books, housewares, and memorabilia of every kind. Where do you begin? Here are a few proven strategies that you can use to make the task less daunting.
First of all: Get over the dread by getting help. Whether you recruit family members, friends, or professionals, you don’t want to do this by yourself. Many older adults have not moved in 20 or 30 years or even longer. Moving is not only a physical undertaking, it is also an emotionally exhausting chore. The decisions surrounding planning and executing a move can seem too overwhelming to handle alone. That’s why you need help.
Second: Begin. The best way to begin is to see the end from the beginning. In all likelihood, you will be downsizing, and just won’t have room for everything you own. Start by choosing only the non-negotiable items you must have. These are things like your favorite books, photographs and albums, music and the items that cannot be replaced. You will quickly see how much “baggage” you can really live without. Resist the temptation to drag along expendable items, like magazines. Objects too valuable to throw away can be given to Goodwill for a tax write-off, or sold at an estate sale. You can even bring in an antique dealer or vintage clothing merchant for your finer things.
Third: Get more help. Consider hiring a move coordinator to help you with all aspects of moving. Grace Fairbanks, of Shirley Zeitlin Realtors in Nashville, heads up the Time & Solutions division which specializes in helping seniors move. Companies like Time & Solutions can help you with all the logistics: from finding the ideal retirement community, to preparing your home for sale (including making repairs and landscaping), to packing up and moving - even property appraisals and investing the equity from the sale of your home. When moving day comes, they’ll even be there to help you move in to your new home and get everything just like you want it.
According to Grace, “It’s an emotional decision not to want to leave home, but the best advice I can offer is to make the decision while you’re still capable of making it for yourself. And, it normally takes people three to six months to get back into their normal routines, so don’t be discouraged if you hit a few emotional rough spots after your move. It’s absolutely normal.”
And finally: Believe it or not, this move that you’re dreading is the beginning of what will probably be the happiest time of your life. You’re moving to an environment designed to meet your physical, mental, emotional and perhaps spiritual needs. You’ll have less responsibility and more time for the people and activities you love. Keep that in mind as you’re deciding if you really need all those shoes or power tools, and you’ll be packed and ready before you know it.