A senior woman downsizing and organizing some items to donate

Downsizing Tips For Seniors

For many, saying goodbye to a long-term home and moving away from all the memories created there can be an emotional or stressful time. Downsizing a home, however, can present many benefits for those seniors looking to live a more independent, carefree lifestyle. Whether you’ve decided to move to a senior living community or you’re downsizing in anticipation of a future move, you may feel a range of emotions.

Why Downsize Your Home?

The first consideration should be the ability to recognize when a home no longer fits your needs. There may be rooms you no longer use, a large yard which requires time-consuming weekly maintenance, or home utilities and repairs that have simply become too much of a financial burden.

Fortunately, many seniors are learning that less really is more when it comes to enjoying an active retirement lifestyle. Downsizing or moving into an independent living community can reduce stress and increase the time you have to do the things you enjoy most. Whether you pick up a new hobby, broaden your knowledge by taking some continuing education classes, or simply spend more time with those who have shared interests, retirement communities can give you the independence you are seeking.

Benefits Of Downsizing

Let’s dig in to why you might be happier with less. There’s actually some science behind it. Psychology Today* lists these benefits:

  • A sense of confidence and self-efficacy – It gives you the opportunity to put your problem-solving and decision-making skills to good use and success is clear to see.
  • More energy – When you’re in that ‘getting things done’ mode it energizes you and can make it easier to keep going with other to-dos.
  •  Reduced anxiety – It is human nature to crave order and symmetry, and too much stuff can throw off that balance; getting rid of excess can restore a greater sense of calm.
  • Reduced tension at home – If you’re always losing things or you just can’t stand the mess, decluttering can help improve relationships between family members.
  • Finding lost treasures – When you have too much, sometimes things that were truly special to you are forgotten; uncovering them again can be a wonderful surprise!

Downsizing Tips For Seniors

Once you have made the decision to downsize your home and start living a maintenance-free lifestyle, it’s time to start preparing for your move to an independent living community. Here are some downsizing tips to get you started:

Start as early as possible. Don’t wait to begin downsizing until you’re forced to move quickly because of a health problem, AARP advises. If you’re planning to sell your home, start paring down your belongings at least a month before your house goes on the market.

Budget plenty of time for yourself. Downsizing is not an overnight decision, nor is it a process you can tackle in just one day. Take the time to let the decision settle in before beginning to go through your home. Be sure to set time aside to properly sort the belongings you wish to keep from the items that are no longer needed.

Create a personal moving plan. Make a list to help keep you organized for your move. If you have access to the floorplan of your new living space, you’ll have a better idea of how many belongings you will be able to take with you. Write out what steps you will need to take to safely get you and your belongings to your new home. This often includes soliciting the help of friends, family, and neighbors.

Pack small spaces first. As you begin to downsize your home, start small. According to statistics, we wear 20 percent of our clothes the majority of the time. It makes sense to begin with smaller storage spaces like your closet, sorting the clothes that you have not worn in a long time and making room for the clothes you’ll be keeping. Move on to other spaces like your linen closet, coat closet, and attic after finishing the bedroom closet.

Donate unwanted items. As you are packing, designate a box of useful items you can give to family, friends, or a local charity. Consider handing down cherished items to your children such as china sets, meaningful ceramics, or photo albums that may require more space than your new home offers.

Pare down photos. Photographs can be some of the hardest items to let go because they represent memories. Choose your favorites to display on the walls of your new place and consider having the rest digitized. Digital versions let you view your photos whenever you want, easily share with family and friends, and keep multiple backups.

Enlist help from loved ones. Moving is a stressful process for anyone, and you shouldn’t feel guilty asking for help from family and friends. Have your loved ones over to share stories as you sort through your memories and declutter or ask them to help with boxes on moving day.

Consider working with a professional. If downsizing causes you too much stress or you feel that you need help, consider hiring a professional move manager. Many specialize in assisting seniors and can help you avoid some of the emotional roller coaster that comes with downsizing and moving.

Waste not, want not. Start using up perishable items in the days or weeks leading up to your move. This way, you will have less to pack and the food in your fridge and pantry does not go to waste.

Keep it tidy. As you are going through rooms to pack, take a few extra minutes to clean as you clear out the spaces. Dust or vacuum each room as you go rather than cleaning the entire home from top to bottom before you move.

Fill a box of essentials. Avoid digging through boxes your first night in the new home by creating one box with all the essentials. Include toiletries such as your toothbrush, comb or brush, any contacts or denture solution you may need, bed linens and towels, paper plates and cutlery, as well as other items such as a spare set of clothes and some healthy snacks.

Over 55 Communities Are A Great Move

Why stop with downsizing your stuff?  You may be surprised to learn that over 55 communities are becoming an increasingly popular choice for retirees downsizing their home. Because of the active, convenient, and carefree lifestyle they offer, these communities are ideal places to create that mental space we talked about above.

The benefits of over 55 communities include:

  • More freedom – Without the stress of home responsibilities weighing on you – mortgage, home insurance, property taxes, repair bills – you can enjoy a richer life.
  • More time – With housekeeping, meals, and other daily chores typically taken care of, you can trade your have-to-do list for a want-to-do list.
  • More opportunity – It’s easy to stay connected with a range of social opportunities, educational and enrichment programs, as well as organized activities and outings to enjoy.
  • More amenities – With the resort-like amenities many communities offer, you can feel like you’re on vacation without ever leaving home.
  • Better location – Over 55 communities are often located in the center of it all, close to nature trails, shopping, restaurants, and medical offices, making life much more convenient.

For more information on how you can begin your move to an over 55 community, contact us today to schedule a visit!

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