4 Downsizing Tips for New Assisted Living Residents

As people grow older, it makes perfect sense to establish some sort of assisted living arrangement. Assisted living communities offer great opportunities for seniors to remain independent while helping their families care for their needs.

But if a senior is used to more space, it can be hard to fit all of their belongings into a space that might resemble college apartment. It doesn’t matter if the move is from a small one-bedroom apartment in Milwaukee or this historic Milwaukee suburban mansion — downsizing for assisted living needs can be tough.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of four downsizing tips to make a move as painless and efficient as possible.

  1. Get Rid of Clothes

You don’t have to go full minimalist just because you’re moving into an assisted living community. But small spaces mean less closet storage, and there’s no better time to evaluate all of your belongings than when you’re already digging them out to pack them up. If you haven’t worn that pair of shoes in more than a year, or if you’ve never actually used that extra set of sheets, don’t go through the hassle of packing and moving them in hopes that “maybe this year!” you’ll get around to it. Instead, donate or sell things you don’t use. By paring down your unused or excessive possessions, you’ll have fewer boxes to buy and to move, plus you can get a boost for the donation on your next tax returns.

A few good resources for donations: Goodwill, Soles 4 Souls, and Dress for Success.

  1. Donate Entertainment

One thing your smaller space REALLY doesn’t need, unless you’re an aspiring film-maker or archivist, is a big stack of videos or DVDs. And if you’ve embraced the streaming revolution, the same thing goes for boxes of CDs, tapes, or any other outdated data storage facility. Instead, why not donate those old tapes to a local shelter or Goodwill? Other, more specialized programs — like DVDs for Vets and Books 4 Cause also accept entertainment and media.

  1. Multi-Purpose Furniture is Key

In a large apartment or house, you can divide rooms by purpose: The dining room is for dining, the bedroom is for sleeping, the living room is for lounging on the couch in your pajamas. But in an assisted living community, every little thing should have a meaningful purpose. Your furniture should reflect that multi-purpose ethos. Consider a couch that can also convert into a bed, or a small table with leaves that allow it to work as a desk or expand to accommodate a dinner party. Bookshelves are a great way to add more surface area while also using vertical space — use them to hold not only your favorite novels, but also stereo equipment and small decorations.

  1. Consider a Family Storage Unit

How often do you re-read Middlemarch? Even if you can’t bear to part with your eight-track collection, how often do you listen to the tapes? Renting a storage unit will allow you or your family to keep the clutter without crowding your living space. In a smaller space, a single object can really change a room. So simply switching objects — small furniture, decor, even books — from your storage unit to your new assisted living community space can totally re-make your living area.

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