There’s a reason downsizing is sometimes reframed as rightsizing: Moving into a smaller space with fewer belongings can be an opportunity to simplify as you shed the extraneous belongings and responsibilities that tend to accumulate with time. Nevertheless, the process of downsizing can be daunting. If you’re considering a move to an independent living community, you may be wondering how to even get started. These tips on downsizing for seniors can help you figure out where to begin:
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Yes, you can rush through the process of downsizing, but if you don’t have to hurry, you’ll find it much less stressful. Giving yourself time — from several weeks to several months — means you can pause for breaks when you need to and take a thoughtful approach to choosing items to bring with you and figuring out what to do with the belongings you no longer want or need.
Start off Easy
Warm to the task by starting in less emotionally loaded rooms, like the laundry room. As you make progress, you’ll gain the confidence and momentum that will help you tackle the more challenging rooms. In approaching each room, first identify the belongings you definitely want to keep — once your fear of losing treasures is eased, you’ll be able to look with an impartial eye at the remaining items. Also notice the items in each room that are easy to get rid of, such as duplicate household items, outdated paperwork, or clothes you never wear.
Let Memories Surface
As you work your way through your home, you may be overwhelmed by nostalgia on occasion. That’s natural. Allow yourself to feel what you feel as you sort through a lifetime of memories and experiences. Take breaks if you need to. Let the process inspire you to share memories — and belongings — with the people you’re close to.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
To avoid being overwhelmed by memories of the past, keep in mind what you’re moving toward. Downsizing for seniors is an opportunity to begin a new chapter in life. And you’re choosing the belongings and accessories that will best help you enjoy it.
If possible, print out a floor plan of your new home or take measurements so you know exactly how much space you’ll have to work with. Also, keep in mind the amenities and services that the senior living community offers. If regular housekeeping is among the services, you’re unlikely to need all your cleaning supplies. With an on-campus woodworking shop or art studio, you won’t need to bring all the tools and supplies you use in your creative hobbies.
Harness Discipline and Creativity
Whether you decide to take a disciplined approach to creativity or a creative approach to discipline, you’ll need both as you work your way through each room in your home. As you sort through belongings, be strict about making two piles — a pile of items you want to keep and another pile of belongings you’re ready to part with. Don’t succumb to the temptation to make a “maybe” pile or you’ll find you’ve simply delayed the difficult decisions you need to make.
When facing choices about items you know you don’t need but feel attached to, try a creative approach to memory keeping. You can winnow collections by keeping only a few favorites and taking photos of the rest to make into a photo book, poster or collage.
As the number of items on the “don’t keep” pile grows, you’ll need to figure out what to do with it all. Letting family members browse through the pile may help reduce its size. Also consider recruiting friends and family as assistants if you decide to host a garage sale. Ask the local museum if they’d like your grandmother’s collection of postcards. Donate to second-hand stores or charities. Or consider hiring a move manager to help you with the entire process, from sorting and planning to packing and moving.
Start Your Next Chapter in Life at Westminster Village
If these tips on downsizing for seniors have inspired you to begin looking for your perfect retirement home, check out Westminster Village. Our independent living community features a maintenance-free lifestyle with a range of home sizes to suit your needs and preferences. Here, you’ll find amenities and services that promote an active, full life, plus the security of knowing you have a plan for the future, should your care needs change. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a tour.