For some, the idea of making a move to retirement or seniors’ communities holds great appeal, but the thought of downsizing has a paralyzing effect.
It’s easy to understand why. Some have spent decades in their homes, raising their families, harvesting memories, and amassing great collections of meaningful keepsakes. Sifting through these sentimental treasures is sure to stir up longings for days gone by.

Others have moved more frequently throughout their lives and perhaps done plenty of downsizing. Some even enjoy paring down their belongings at regular intervals. However, as age becomes a factor, the process of downsizing can become overwhelming especially for those experiencing challenges such as diminished strength, ailing health and/or waning energy.

Moving at any stage of life can be stressful.

How does one manage such a feat when first you have to reduce the contents of a multi-room house, to fit into one or two rooms? How do you choose which of your prize possessions to keep, which to give away, and what to pitch? Where do you even begin?

In Calgary there are companies that specialize in just this; helping people downsize so they can move to a more manageable space with amenities and supports close at hand. Some offer assistance at every stage of the process, including mapping out how furniture and accessories will fit in your new living space, and packing for the move. There are many books, articles and blogs offering advices and guidance to assist seniors with this tumultuous transition.

Here are some suggestions to help get you started:
1. If time allows, just live with the idea for a few months, giving yourself sufficient time to grapple with the change and gear up for the task.
2. Enlist the help and support of a trusted family member or friends.
3. Consider your new space and map out that same amount of space in your current home. All that you wish to keep will need to fit in this space.
4. Take inventory of your possessions and categorize them into four piles:
     a) Things to keep
     b) Offer to family or friends
     c) Sell or give to charity
     d) Garbage. Go room by room – not all on the same day!
5. If you have items you intend to give as a gift or legacy, consider doing it now while you are able to witness your recipient’s joy.
6. Consider your new lifestyle and choose your possessions accordingly (e.g., if your new facility has an exercise room, do you really need your treadmill?).
7. Take a break from your decisions and then come back for a second review.


Paperwork Checklist

We all have that file cabinet or drawer full of “important” papers. Here is a list to help organize critical documents.  These are a few we would suggest to save:
• Names, contact information, and brief descriptions of your doctors, attorneys, accountants, bankers, brokers and insurance agents
• Personal assets, including savings accounts, pension or retirement plan income; CDs; stocks; bonds; insurance policies; titles to cars, boats, homes, etc.
• Pictures or videos of your personal possessions — including approximate values of treasured possessions can be helpful in the event of an insurance claim
• List of any personal liabilities
• Copies of federal and province income tax returns from the past seven years
• List and account numbers of chequing accounts, savings accounts and credit cards
• Social Security and Healthcare cards, passport, and birth certificate
• Trusts, wills, and any codicils or amendments, including durable power of attorney and advance directives
• A letter addressing any personal issues (e.g., your preferences for any end-of-life desires such as burial or cremation, any personal comments to friends or family)

We recommend shredding any documents you no longer need. If you have a large volume of paper, there are companies who will shred it for you. We also recommend storing important information you decide to keep in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe. If you are comfortable with the concept, you might also want to scan vital documents and store them online or duplicate them and leave them with a trusted loved one or friend. Third, tell your loved ones where they can find — and how they can access — all these vital documents.

It’s important to know, you are not alone in this daunting exercise. 

A study of aging Canadians showed there are nearly five million seniors living in Canada, and more than 90 per cent of them reside in private residences. The same study showed that factors such as age, health issues (e.g., dementia) and availability of in-home care are causing growing numbers of people to consider moving to retirement communities or senior homes.

This may not be an easy step, but try to focus on thoughts of a relaxed and comfortable new dwelling where you will have all your needs met, and remember moments well-lived don’t require physical time or space. Your meaningful life experiences, recollections and sentimental feeling are yours to keep wherever you go.

If you have questions about senior living options, costs and an aging in place lifestyle call 403-369-6000 or email Tina Cameron has over 20 years of experience with The Manor Village Life Centers and The Statesman Group of Companies.

Paperwork Checklist Source: edited from

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