Tips for Decluttering and Downsizing Your Home

Many seniors no longer can and/or want to care for a home. Home maintenance is time-consuming, costly and stressful. Keeping up a home takes work and seniors wish they had more time to commit to their hobbies and passions. Downsizing or moving to a senior living community can help them find this time and relieve the stress and responsibility of home ownership.

Whether you are moving to a smaller house, condo or senior living community, here are some tips for decluttering and downsizing.

Start Small

Make a list of the areas of your home, drawers, cabinets, closets and rooms.  Start small and tackle one at a time, one day at a time.  One drawer per day doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Just a few extra bodies will make the process go faster. If family members aren’t an option, consider the professionals. Senior Move Managers specialize in helping older adults and their families with the daunting process of downsizing and moving to a new residence. They do the organizing, packing and unpacking, space planning and coordinate with auction houses and movers.

Use the 5-Box / 5-Color Method

Set up boxes in the area where you are working and place each item into the appropriate box.  Use colored tags for larger items like furnishings. When sorting, go with your first impulse.

Everything in your home should fall into 5 categories:

KEEP (Yellow)

  • Use your new space as a guide. Work with a floor plan provided by the community or real estate agent.
  • Focus on most used items, not necessarily the newest or most expensive.
  • Pick out the two best items in a collection. Take pictures and make a photo album of the rest.


You can't take it with you so let your family and friends enjoy the item sooner rather than later.


Most charities will pick up items from your home. Be aware that they are being more selective and may only take a few of the items that you have designated for donation.

SELL (Green)

Think twice about selling items on your own.  Online selling options, i.e., Craigslist, eBay and garage sales are time-consuming and open your home to strangers.  Instead, let the pros handle it.

TOSS (Red)

Be aware that items other than household garbage will fall into this category when you are downsizing.

  • If it is chipped, broken, or stained, TOSS IT. Charities won’t take items they cannot sell.
  • Do not be shy about tossing these items: spices, junk mail, magazines, unused toiletries, plastic food containers, candles and the contents of your junk drawer.
  • If you do not want to throw it away, but you cannot sell or donate it, put it out on the curb with a "Free" sign. You will be amazed at how fast it disappears.

Allegro's Senior Living Advisors are available to recommend moving experts or moving partners in your local community. Find an Allegro community near you and contact us today.

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