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This video includes tips for downsizing yourself or elderly relatives when moving into a new living space.  This will help ensure a smooth transition and reduce the stress factor for all parties!  If an elderly relative moves in to your home this information can be invaluable.

Downsizing: Tips from Professional Organizer Vicki Norris

Helen Raptis: When you have a parent or relative who needs to downsize, it really can be tough on everyone emotionally and logistically. So after helping her grandmother downsize from a home to a care facility, Restoring Order’s Vicki Norris picked up a number of very helpful tips for a smooth transition.

You’re taking a look at Grace Nurse, and she is grandmother to Vicki Norris. Now Vicki, you were just mentioning that Grace has been through a lot lately. She just downsized, and you helped her do that.

Vicki Norris: Well, I did, but also my family was involved in the process too, because, you know, a downsize can be kind of time-consuming. And it can be overwhelming for people, but it doesn’t have to be.

Helen Raptis: All right, let’s talk about what any of us need when we downsize, just to begin with. What’s our first step?

Vicki Norris: Well, the first step, you want to create a quick little timeline and actually schedule some time to work on this, just so you’re not overwhelmed. Then you want to inventory the existing home. Make a list of all the belongings, the collections, the valuables, and consult relatives.

Helen Raptis: Now, that can be overwhelming. If it’s you or it’s your grandmother or your mother – whoever it is, that can be really overwhelming.

Vicki Norris: It can be, but you know, we just got out a notepad and started listing the large… large items like the bedroom set, the entertainment center, the bookshelves, the hide-a-bed and things like that, and kind of made a list of everything… um… major, not all the little tiny things….

Helen Raptis: Right.

Vicki Norris: And then we consulted relatives. My grandmother had made a list, actually, of everything that should go to each person, so that was a huge help.

Helen Raptis: That’s going to be a help, yeah…

Vicki Norris: Yeah, that was a big help. And after you’ve inventoried the existing place and you’ve decided what you can feasibly take with you, then you want to sell or donate the remainder. And so we just had an estate sale right there in her two bedroom condo, and that helped out a lot because there’s people right there, you know, ready for the sale.

Helen Raptis: So that’s… and you say it’s key to start purging…

Vicki Norris: It is, and you want to purge as you go. Whether you’re downsizing from a five bedroom house to a three bedroom house, or whether you’re making your final move, purge along the way and it will be so much easier.

Helen Raptis: And then as you did with your granny, you purged along the way, you assessed what she had in her existing space, and then you went to her new place, right?

Vicki Norris: That’s right. And we took… I took some pictures of the new place, just an empty slate. I actually drew a floor plan, Helen, and it’s doesn’t have to be hard. I just ripped out a piece of notepaper…

Helen Raptis: This is as simple as it is…

Vicki Norris: It’s just that simple. I just draw it out, measure it out so you know what kind of things can you get: a double bed, a single bed, what kind of chair can you have… because we wanted to really create a home, not just a bedroom. And so that way we knew what kind of furniture we could bring, by placing it on our floor plan. And also assessing anything that needed to be cleaned or replaced, like a light fixture.

Helen Raptis: Okay, when it comes to the emotional aspects of downsizing – and when it concerns your grandmother – you really need to take some things into consideration, don’t you?

Vicki Norris: You really do. You want to make sure this is a dignified process for your loved one. So the important things are to get some familiar things at the new place before you transfer your loved one to that new place… so they feel like they’re coming home.

Helen Raptis: With your granny, it was the teacups. She has a collection of teacups.

Vicki Norris: Yes, she has a collection of teacups, and so we began packing that one thing before she moved, so she kind of got the idea… I’m moving, and she knew that her favorite collection was going with her. But then when she arrived, everything was set up. So, it is important to surround your loved one with important… um, family memorabilia.

Vicki Norris: She has some lovely paintings and family photos that are important to her, and so we wanted to make sure that those were up on the walls and she was surrounded by those familiar things.

Helen Raptis: What about people who downsize, and they end up putting their stuff in a storage locker. Is that… I mean, you end up paying for the storage.

Vicki Norris: Now you know what I’m going to say about that!

Helen Raptis: Purge, purge, purge.

Vicki Norris: Purge, purge. You know, storage units end up costing us so much money. The actual stint in a storage unit is actually 15 months, but I can imagine that it’s actually much longer for people who are making a large downsize because they just never have the energy or time to get back to it, to clean it out.

Helen Raptis: One of the things you said your mom did, which was key to this, is making sure that she had everything together legally, right?

Vicki Norris: Yes, that’s so important, downsizing at any age to any… um… new home, you want to make sure that your affairs are in order. Get power of attorney for your loved ones so if you become unable to make those decisions, your loved ones can. Your healthcare directive in place. My mom says that the power of attorney has saved her time and time again, just in helping ease that process. Then after the move, you want to think about change of address and who’s going to take care of those… um, that, just, bill paying and managing that person’s affairs. Because of course, remember, you’re doing that on top of your own affairs as well.

Helen Raptis: Right. And you also, in this room you set up for your granny, you set together… you set up a really sweet little thing so that she feels comfortable in addition to the teacups… but a little sitting area…

Vicki Norris: Yes, we did. We created a sitting area because again, we had limited space but we wanted it to feel like a sitting room. We wanted a place where her and I, or her and my mom, could sit down and have a cup of tea together. We also wanted her to be positioned so she could look out the window and see the, um… you know, feel like it’s a larger space. So that was… a key to a smaller space is doing everything you can to expand that space whether it’s with shelving, storage, the way you position furniture, looking out the window, that kind of thing.

Helen Raptis: Yeah. Well she seems like she’s doing really well. You did a great job, this is wonderful.

Vicki Norris; Thank you.

Helen Raptis: I think we should put the tips on our website. We’ll also have a link from our website to yours, and remind folks that you have your book, Restoring Order to Your Home. Vicki Norris.

Vicki Norris: Thank you so much.

Helen Raptis: Thank you.

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