At some point in retirement, it occurs to many seniors that downsizing isn’t just a good idea but mandatory. A move to a senior living community is one of the reasons to downsize, and while it may seem like a daunting task at the start, take a look at five truths about downsizing in retirement to help make it easier, faster, and less stressful.
5 truths about downsizing in retirement
Truth #1: Sharing the burden helps
Yes, downsizing from a large family home to a smaller residence is a big task, no doubt about it. Just thinking about the closets, rooms and cupboards brimming with “stuff” can make any senior weak in the knees.
The key to making downsizing less of a burden is to enlist some help with not only sorting through everything, but to do the heavy lifting as well. Kids, and grandkids are at the top of the list but thanks to the thousands of baby boomers reaching retirement age, a whole new business of senior downsizing companies has sprung up to help. According to the National Association of Senior Move Managers these professionals are trained and screened specifically for assisting seniors with downsizing and making the move.
Truth #2: Much of what is stored belongs to children
Looking around a family home, it’s usually pretty easy to see that much of the things in storage don’t actually belong to the seniors, but to their children. Old school books and papers, memorabilia from childhood, bins of games and toys, old clothes, etc. may have been stashed for decades and long forgotten.
Downsizing offers the perfect opportunity to embrace the freedom of less stuff by requiring children to take or dispose of all of their treasures on their own time. If there is a garage sale or donation in the works they may choose to contribute or they can just put it in the trash. Whatever they do with it is their decision and one less for seniors to make while downsizing. For more suggestions check out our blog, “5 Tips for Smooth & Easy Downsizing in Retirement.”
Truth #3: Planning is essential
Downsizing is a big job and one that will go much easier if there is a solid plan in place. Start as far as possible from the planned move date so there is plenty of time to get it done without having to hurry. Next, make a timeline and assign helpers to each day, keeping it manageable to cut down on stress and fatigue. Also try to do the biggest jobs first like tackling the basement and garage then moving along to smaller storage areas like closets and cupboards.
Another good idea is to designate an area on each floor where items you plan to keep, or may keep, will be placed so they are separated from those that are not making the move. Find more ways to create a stress-free plan for downsizing in the grayingwithgrace.com article, “Guide to Downsizing for Seniors: Tips and Tricks to Reduce Stress.”
Truth #4: Downsizing can be emotional
Downsizing for a move from a family home is often a very emotional time so it is best to be prepared for feeling everything from sadness to uncertainty to fear. These emotions can cloud decision making and complicate the process when a senior is struggling to stay in control and get the job done efficiently. There are, however, ways to manage the surge of emotions starting with anticipating them so they can be dealt with as they occur such as talking with a close friend or counselor. Another trick is to counter each negative feeling with a positive such as, “I’m not losing my memories, I’m making new ones.” More about dealing with emotions can be found in the AARP article, “How to Cope With Downsizing Your Home.”
Truth #5: It isn’t all going to fit
Family homes hold many treasures from furniture to art to equipment but it’s a simple fact that it isn’t all going to fit into a smaller living space. Thus, it is essential to measure each item designated to move and use the floor plan of the new residence to place it in the intended room. If any item will not fit, it will be that much easier to donate it, sell it or gift it to someone who can use it. For more expert advice check out the porch.com article, “The Ultimate Guide for Downsizing to a Smaller Home or Apartment.”
At Sonrisa Senior Living we know downsizing can be tough and we are happy to help new residents make the move as stress free as possible. Download our Active Adult Decision Guide for helpful advice on making the right retirement living decision for you. Contact us to learn more and schedule a tour of our beautiful neighborhood!