Senior-Friendly Guide to Downsizing in 2021
The truth is, no matter what age you are or what the reason is, no one likes to move.
It’s stressful and sometimes bittersweet, especially if you’ve been in your current home for a while. However, if you’re thinking it’s time for a change, it’s often the right decision.
For many seniors, downsizing can be the best move.
It’s amazing how freeing it can be to not have to take care of a big home and instead spend your time focusing on things you enjoy. Plus, if you are looking to slow down your house chores but not your daily life, there are many amazing active adult communities that are filled with fun.
All that being said, downsizing can be stressful and overwhelming.
Before you even begin to pack, there are some great downsizing systems you can implement to make the entire process smoother from the get-go.
The Three D’s: Declutter, Donate, Document
If you jump straight into packing, you’ll find that you have way too much stuff to deal with and begin to feel discouraged quickly.
To avoid that, you’ll need to simplify your space by decluttering, donating, and documenting.
- Declutter: Your first step should be to declutter your home. This includes every drawer, closet, and corner that is stuffed with random junk. Get rid of anything that you’re not using and that doesn’t have sentimental value. The process of decluttering can hit three birds with one stone — getting rid of junk you would never even think to pack, putting you in the mindset of letting go, and cleaning your home.
- Donate: You likely have half a closet full of clothes that are still in good condition but never get worn. Donating certain items to family members, friends, or non-profits instead of throwing them away is a great way to keep value with your things without actually keeping them. This will also substantially cut down on the number of items you have to pack and reorganize in your new home.
- Document: Changing the way your living room looks or the possibility of losing an important piece of paper or heirloom can be scary. That’s why documenting things that are important through notes and pictures is incredibly helpful. This will allow you to recreate a similar setup in your new home and make sure that nothing gets lost in the move.
By starting with these three steps, you can set yourself up for an easier packing process and transition.
As you begin to actually pack, here are some simple tips that will make downsizing easier:
Tips to Make Downsizing Easier for Seniors
#1. Stary Early
If you know your next step is to downsize, start early. Even if you don’t have a new place picked out yet, start organizing, packing, and selling furniture and other belongings you no longer want or need. This way, when it’s time to make the move, there’s fewer things you have to deal with.
Downsizing can easily become a very stressful event and preparing early can make the process much smoother.
Give yourself plenty of time because packing always takes longer than you expect. Also, it’s much less stressful when you take your time and do a little bit each weekend. Don’t try to sort through your entire house at once, go room by room.
We recommend giving yourself a timeline of about a month! If you’re not rushed, you’ll find the process more peaceful.
#2. Start Small
While it can be tempting to dive in head-first into packing up your home, it’s much better to start small and work your way up. You have years and years of things to sort through so start with an area that you have little emotional attachment to such as the laundry room, linen closet, or guest room.
Garages, attics, and basements are known for being the most difficult spaces to go through because they tend to accumulate a lot. The main bedroom and living room are also known to be the most sentimental so save all of these spaces for last.
#3. Eliminate Rooms That Aren’t in Your New Home
The beauty of downsizing is having “less home” to take care of which means you will likely have fewer rooms or spaces in your new home than you do in your current one. With this in mind, it is important to cull down the furniture, decorations, and other items in those rooms for you will likely not have the space in your new home.
For example, you might not have a guest room in your new home so you will have no need for the second bed, the nightstands, or all the extra sheet and towel sets. The more you can include this in your donation and declutter steps before you pack, the better!
#4. Discard Duplicates
You’ll find that your kitchen is a hotspot for duplicates, or more accurately, quadruplicates. While it’s great to have more than one spatula, do you really need four? As for pots, ladles, kitchen towels, baking sheets, and other similar items, how many do you actually use on a regular basis?
By really taking a look at what you use, you can cut down on the sheer number of things you’re packing, moving, and reorganizing in your new home. This process can be applied to office supplies and other household goods like sheet sets.
#5. No “Maybe” Piles
When it comes to sorting your belongings into piles, only have yes or no piles. Maybe piles are not productive to your packing process and can often make it even more difficult for you to let go of items you don’t actually need.
Maybe piles can quickly become bigger than your yes and no collections and make it seem like you haven’t made any progress at all. They are the Achilles heel of downsizing for seniors.
Take a hard look at each item you go through and if you use it, keep it, if you haven’t used it in a year, say NO and let it go.
Downsizing for Seniors Can Be Easy
With the right preparation and a good system, downsizing for seniors can be a smooth and easy process.
You can almost view it as a recipe, once you have all of the correct ingredients (no clutter, a donation pile, important documentation, no duplicates, and a plan for each room) you can easily put it all together.
For a quick breakdown on why renting an apartment is the smarter choice for seniors who are looking to downsize, check out our blog here.