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Tips for Organizing and Downsizing Before Moving to a Nursing Home

Tips for Organizing and Downsizing Before Moving to a Nursing Home

What is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility, is a type of residential care facility that provides comprehensive medical care and daily assistance to elderly individuals who can no longer live independently.

Nursing homes are designed to offer 24-hour care to those who require around-the-clock medical attention and supervision due to age-related health conditions or disabilities.

Many nursing homes provide a range of services to ensure that residents receive everything they need to maintain their well-being including:

  • Hospice care
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech therapy


What is a Nursing Home?

Why is Downsizing Necessary Before Moving to a Nursing Home?

The limited storage space in a nursing home makes it difficult to have too many belongings, as it can make the living space feel cluttered and overwhelming. Therefore, downsizing helps in making better use of the limited living space available.

Apart from the practical benefits of downsizing, it can also assist with the emotional process of transitioning to a nursing home.

When it comes to downsizing before moving to a nursing home, it is essential to make wise choices about which items to keep and which ones to let go of.

Taking the time to sort through belongings can help in making the transition as smooth as possible. The process of downsizing can be helped by having ample time, and categorizing their items systematically.

During the categorization process, consider the value of an item, whether or not it is sentimental, or if it is necessary to keep it in order to preserve memories.


Create an Inventory of Items

When downsizing before a move to a nursing home, one of the most challenging tasks can be sorting through your possessions to determine what to keep and what to get rid of. [1] One of the essential things to do before downsizing and moving to a nursing home is to create an inventory of items.

This involves taking inventory of everything an individual owns, from larger items to smaller ones. By creating a list of items, individuals can have a clear understanding of everything they own, which can make the downsizing process more manageable.

An inventory list can help individuals decide on what items are necessary to bring with them to their new homes and what to dispose of or sell.


Make a List of Items Worth Keeping

Organizing and downsizing before moving to a nursing home can be an intimidating task, especially if you’ve accumulated a lot of belongings over the years.

One of the best ways to approach this process is to start by making a list of items that you would like to keep.

To begin, go through each room of your home and identify the possessions that you can’t imagine living without and that hold a lot of meaning for you. This could include:

  • Childhood photographs
  • Family heirlooms
  • Handwritten letters from loved ones
  • Jewelry passed down through generations
  • Personalized gifts given by special people
  • Religious artifacts or symbols
  • Sentimental clothing such as a wedding dress or christening gown
  • Special books or art pieces with personal significance
  • Treasured objects from travels or adventures
  • Wedding memorabilia like the cake topper or wedding favors


It’s important to prioritize these items according to their importance so that you can make sure they are safely packed and transported to your new home.

Once you’ve identified the sentimental items that you want to keep with you, it’s time to move onto practical items that you will need in your new home.

This could include furniture, kitchen appliances, or other items that you use on a regular basis. As you go through each room, make sure to add these items to your list as well. If the nursing home serves all meals in a cafeteria, there may be no need to keep kitchen items at all unless they have sentimental value.


Organizing and Labeling Items

To make the process more manageable, it’s helpful to separate your furniture and possessions into four categories: definitely save, possibly save, donate/sell, and discard.

Using colored tags to indicate categories can be a useful visual aid. As you tag items, create a list of possessions that you plan to give to specific people, such as family members or friends. It’s important to assign a home for every item to reduce clutter and make packing more organized.

For sentimental items that won’t be taken with you, consider memorializing them through photographs. Keep a collection of cherished pictures in an album or in a digital format to access when you want to reminisce about the memories they represent.

In the kitchen, reduce your belongings to the essentials. Keep only the items you use regularly, and consider donating or selling extra kitchenware that is still in good condition.

It’s important to be patient with this downsizing process and allow time for reminiscing and acknowledging emotions that may arise. By using categories, colored tags, and lists, you can simplify the process and make it more organized and efficient.


Decide How to Dispose of Unwanted Items

Deciding how to dispose of unwanted items can be a daunting task when downsizing before moving to a nursing home. Luckily, there are several options available that can make the process a bit easier.

If you have items that are unusable, calling a junking company is a viable option. These companies specialize in removing items that are no longer in working condition or are not suitable for donation.

While there may be a cost associated with this service, it can be a quick and efficient way to get rid of unwanted items.

On the other hand, if your unwanted items are still in good condition, consider donating them to charitable organizations. This is a great way to give back to your community and help those in need. There are many charities that accept donations of:

  • Appliances
  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Household items


A quick internet search can help you identify organizations in your area that accept donations.

Hosting a garage sale or estate sale are options for getting rid of unwanted items. These can be fun ways to interact with your community while also making a bit of money. It’s important to advertise your sale in advance and price items fairly to ensure that you attract buyers.

Using auction or “want ad” websites such as eBay or Craigslist is another option for selling unwanted items.

These websites allow you to reach a wider audience and potentially get a higher price for your items. It’s important to take good photos of the items and provide accurate descriptions to attract potential buyers.

For valuable items, consider getting appraisals prior to selling. This can give you an idea of their worth and help ensure that you get a fair price when selling.

Furniture consignment shops can be a good option if you’re looking to sell high-end or unique pieces. These shops will typically take a commission for selling your items, but it can be worth it if you’re looking to get a good price for your furniture.


Get Help from Family and Friends

When the time comes to downsize possessions before moving to a nursing home, it can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process. Sorting through a lifetime of belongings can be a daunting task, especially when trying to decide what to:

  • Give away
  • Keep
  • Throw away


One of the first things to consider is asking for help. You don’t have to go through the process alone. Enlisting the help of family and friends can make the experience more manageable and even enjoyable.

Having someone to help sort through possessions, make difficult decisions, and provide support during the process can make all the difference.

If family and friends are not available, there are professional organizers who can help. The National Association of Productivity & Organizing (NAPO) has a website that provides a directory of professional organizers who specialize in downsizing and organizing possessions.

Enlisting the help of a professional organizer can be beneficial in many ways. They can provide a step-by-step plan on how to tackle the daunting task of sorting through a lifetime of belongings. They can also provide emotional support and help make the process less overwhelming.


Utilize Marie Kondo’s Method for Decluttering and Downsize Your Living Space

As you prepare for a move to a nursing home, downsizing your living space can seem like an overwhelming task. Using Marie Kondo’s decluttering method can provide a helpful approach to organizing and minimizing possessions to bring joy and ease to your new living space. [2]

Marie Kondo is an expert in organizing and decluttering living spaces. Her method involves organizing possessions by category, discarding items that do not spark joy, and properly storing the items that are meaningful to you.

This method of organizing can be useful when downsizing a home before moving to a nursing home.

To effectively utilize Marie Kondo’s method, start by categorizing your belongings into groups such as clothing, books, and sentimental items.

As you work through each category, hold each item and ask yourself if it truly sparks joy. If an item does not spark joy, it can be respectfully discarded.

When working with sentimental items, consider if the item holds meaningful value or if it is taking up space without purpose. If an item holds no value or joy, it can also be respectfully discarded.

Proper storage and organization of the remaining items will also be essential to a successful downsizing. Properly storing your belongings will help preserve them for future use and provide easier access when needed. To ensure that everything is organized and easy to find, consider using:

  • Labels
  • Storage bins
  • Vacuum-seal bags


By following Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering and downsizing, the moving process can become less stressful and more enjoyable.

Make your move to a nursing home positive by organizing your possessions, dedicating time to the process, and focusing on only keeping the items that truly bring you joy and happiness.


Give Yourself Plenty of Time

When you have a lifetime’s worth of sentimental and meaningful items to sort through, give yourself plenty of time to complete the process. This can relieve pressure and stress and allow you to enjoy the process of downsizing rather than seeing it as a chore. With ample time, you can work through each item and avoid making rash decisions that you may regret later on.


Start the Process Early On in Order to Reduce Stress Levels

To prevent undue stress or time constraints, it is recommended to begin the process of decluttering and downsizing your possessions as soon as possible. It is suggested to begin with a small area or room and work gradually.

For instance, you can start with items that you hardly use or that have no sentimental value. It’s also essential to remember that the downsizing process can be emotionally stressful, and it’s critical to take care of your emotional well-being.


Set Reasonable Goals and Deadlines for Sorting Through Belongings

To make the moving process more manageable, it’s essential to set reasonable goals and specific deadlines.

One helpful strategy is to decide how much time can be realistically dedicated to each room in the entire house or each category of items.

Creating a schedule based on these timeframes will help ensure the downsizing process stays on track, preventing the task from becoming too overwhelming.

Prioritize the items that must be sorted, such as important documents or valuables. This will help you avoid decision fatigue and ensure that the most critical items are addressed first.

It’s also important to allow for breaks during the downsizing process. Sorting through belongings can be emotionally taxing, and taking a break can help you maintain your focus and energy. By setting specific deadlines, you can give yourself permission to take breaks without feeling guilty.

Remember, it’s essential to be flexible and adjust the schedule as needed. If you realize that you need more time to sort through a particular category of items, it’s okay to reschedule the deadline accordingly.

By setting reasonable goals and specific deadlines, you can make the downsizing process more manageable and prevent unnecessary stress. So, take your time, prioritize your items, and be kind to yourself throughout the process.


Moving to a nursing home can be an emotional transition, especially when needing extra help with the move. Ruth Movers understands the challenges that come with downsizing and relocating and is here to help.

With our team of experienced movers, we can help you or your loved one settle into their new home with ease. From packing to transportation, we take care of everything. Contact us today to schedule your move and let our compassionate team help make this transition easier for you.



[1] Downsizing a Home: A Checklist for Caregivers – Family Caregiver Alliance. (2021, February 22). Family Caregiver Alliance.

[2] KonMari MethodTM: Fundamentals of Tidying. (n.d.). KonMari Method: Life-Changing Online Tidying Course.


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