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Top Downsizing Tips for Seniors

couple packing boxes in kitchen

When you’ve lived in the same house for years or even decades, it’s easy to collect a lot of stuff. Even if you’re ready to say “goodbye” to your old house and “hello” to a more exciting lifestyle, all that stuff can start to feel overwhelming. In fact, one of the primary reasons seniors say they stay put is because they don’t want to do all that packing and moving.

But we’re here to help with downsizing tips for seniors. That way, you can focus less on the work of moving and more on researching senior living communities to find the best option for you.

Downsizing Tips

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Which is just a more colorful way of saying the way to make a big job easier is to break it down into more manageable pieces. The suggestions below will help make your move as easy as possible.

  • Stay positive: If you feel yourself thinking too much about the work you have to do, focus on the life ahead of you. Think about all the new things you’ll be able to try and the people you’ll meet. Also be sure to celebrate as you make progress, and feel good about what you’ve accomplished.
  • Start early: Downsizing your home will probably take longer than you expect, so start as soon as you can, and don’t try to sort through your entire house in one day or one weekend. A couple of weeks to a month is a more realistic timeline. Take it one room at a time, and take breaks throughout.
  • Start small: You probably already have things you want to get rid of in the kitchen or garage, but avoid diving into the biggest rooms at the very beginning. Start in an area with little emotional attachment, like your laundry room or linen closet.
  • Consider your new home: If you’re downsizing to a smaller space, one important downsizing tip for seniors is to eliminate items in the rooms you won’t have at your new residence. For example, if you currently have a garage, office or extra bedroom, but won’t when you move, nearly everything in those spaces will need to be sold, donated, thrown away or relocated to other rooms. Senior living communities like The House of the Good Shepherd also offer a maintenance-free lifestyle with a variety of services and amenities, including dining options. That means you can let go of your tools, mower, snow shovel and a lot of the items in your kitchen.
  • Only one: If you find you have multiples of the same item (this is especially true in the kitchen) downsizing is the perfect time to select the one you use the most.
  • Your collections: Collecting can be a lot of fun, but a good downsizing tip for seniors is to narrow your collection down to a few pieces that are representative of the set. Or you can take pictures of your entire collection and have them turned into a book or photo album.
  • Sorting: Only make “yes” or “no” piles. When you’re sorting through belongings, some items will stir up memories, and you’ll be tempted to make a “maybe” pile of things to keep if you have space. But you’ll probably end up with a maybe pile that’s bigger than either of the other two. Although it can be difficult to choose, it’s important to decide yes or no as you downsize. A good rule of thumb is, if you aren’t already using it, or haven’t used it in over a year, you probably don’t need it anymore.
  • Labels and notes: Try to label things for their destination (new house, family/friends, sale, donation or recycle/dispose). It’s also a good idea to note where things have been sent. That way, if you wonder where an item went, you’ll be able to check.
  • Declutter regularly: Even if you’re not ready to move yet, it’s a good idea to set aside 15 minutes each  week to go through a drawer or closet. Then when you do decide to move, you’ll be better prepared.
  • Bonding time: Preparing for a move is a good time to connect with friends and family members. Invite them over to help you and tell stories about your favorite items. They can help you pack and you can even pass on some of your favorite mementos.

Discover How Good Life Can Be

At The House of the Good Shepherd, we have a variety of floor plans available, so one of them is sure to fit your lifestyle. To learn more about the benefits of our independent living lifestyle or to come see our community for yourself, contact one of our team members.