Surviving Spouse Corner: Tips for Downsizing and Decluttering

Surviving Spouse Corner: Tips for Downsizing and Decluttering
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Most people would agree they have experienced a move that did not go as planned.  Missing items, broken items, and often a vague timeline for delivery from the moving company can make anyone have a few sleepless nights. Perhaps you have decades of “treasures” in your home you had planned on sharing with family. Then it is revealed all are not going to get passed down after all. Where do you start?


You must consider how long you have lived in the residence and how many people have lived there. As you add number of years and people, you also increase the number of weeks it will take to declutter.


I use the Marie Kondo “Magic of Tidying Up” approach to look at a client’s home with my business as a senior move manager. Start where there is the least emotional connection: clothing and accessories. Often, if you just declutter the clothes that don’t fit any longer and donate them, it can be a great way to start. Then tackle the books, papers, and general items (including bedroom, bathroom, office, and kitchen). End with mementos that hold the most sentimental triggers.


Luckily, help is available to begin this process and provide some professional guidance when needed. The National Association of Senior Move Managers has a website to find trusted professionals in a specific geographic area. They are experienced in helping someone sort their belongings and decide what is best to take, possibly sell, donate, or throw out. They can help with floorplan designs and mover scheduling if the final plan is to move. Depending on the business, they will charge by the hour or by the project. 


Senior move managers often are a wealth of resources that can save you and your family time and/or money. They network with movers, senior placement specialists, senior living communities, Realtors, estate sale professionals, and many other businesses to be sure they can assist their clients when needed.


Family members often have good intentions to help with the decluttering and downsizing process. However, their own emotional attachment to items can complicate the downsizing process.


Read past Surviving Spouse Corners.


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About the Author

Renée Brunelle Matthews
Renée Brunelle Matthews

Renée Brunelle Matthews is a member of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council and co-founder of Pathfinders Downsizing Solutions.