Seniors & Aging: Matt Del Vecchio: Valuable downsizing tips

As our population ages, many people are considering downsizing. Some feel the timing may be ideal to sell in a hot real estate market. Others are finding the burden of home ownership is becoming too much. And some have increasing care requirements thus requiring a transition into a senior living community.

I regularly work with individuals and couples going through this process. It can be challenging to say the least. Often it is overwhelming and emotional — especially if you are still in your family home where the kids grew up.

There have been some experiences that have been enjoyable. And there have been others that have been downright physically and emotionally draining. It doesn’t have to be that way. Consider the following tips that will make the downsizing process a little more manageable.

Start early

Downsizing is a process that can start years in advance. In addition, as winter approaches and increased isolation measures are being implemented due to COVID, there is no better time to start than now. This will serve two purposes. First, it will get you in the habit of downsizing. Once you get a rhythm going, it will tend to become easier. Second, there will often be a sense of relief, a psychological boost once you are able to discard a few items that frees up some space.

One room at a time

The downsizing process can be less overwhelming by approaching it one room at a time. Start with the rooms you use the least. This usually means the basement, storage rooms and garage. Work your way up to some of the more popular rooms. The experience gained in the early stages will help the process when some of the tougher decisions are required.

Yes / No / Maybe pile

It is recommended to create three piles: “Yes”, I want to keep; “No”, I want to discard; and “Maybe” because you are still not sure. Based on experience, you need to make sure the “No” pile gets discarded immediately to avoid the all too familiar scenario where you second guess yourself.

Downsizing party

Get your children and grandchildren involved in the experience. Not only will it make it more efficient, but you would be amazed how much your kids and grandkids will learn about you as you go through the memories.

Go digital

One of the toughest parts of downsizing is having to decide if you should throw out old pictures, cards, kids projects and the many memorabilia that you just don’t have it in you to get rid of. A simple solution is by going digital. Taking pictures or videos of everything and filing it away safely and securely in your computer or on a USB key will not only keep your memories but it will save an enormous amount of space.

Where does it all go?

Start with family, friends and neighbours. However, don’t be insulted if family members take a pass on some of your belongings. You can also choose to sell some of your items through estate sales, garage sales or through online options such as Kijiji. You can also donate some of your belongings (always a preferred option as you are giving a second life for your items to a family in need).

Finally, if all else fails, it’s time to throw it out.

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging and founder of Lianas Senior Transition Support helping families with their life transitions. He is also the co-host of “Life Unrehearsed” on CJAD800. For more, email him at

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