Downsizing For Seniors Isn’t Easy, But It Can Be
Downsizing for seniors is a difficult, emotionally-charged experience that requires an extensive amount of planning and support from loved ones.
It’s natural to accumulate more belongings the longer we stay in one place. These items are part of what makes a house feel like a home! But for older adults, letting go of these things — many which have sentimental value — can feel overwhelming.
There are many reasons why older adults have to downsize. They might want a simpler lifestyle, trim their expenses, live closer to their grandchildren, or have health concerns that require them to do so.
Benefits Of Downsizing For Seniors
Downsizing for seniors doesn’t always mean moving into a smaller home. It can be beneficial even if when staying in the same house. Here are a few of the benefits of downsizing for seniors:
- Downsizing makes it easier to plan for a potential move.
- It creates more space for assistive devices and future home remodels.
- Makes extra space for a live-in relative who provides care.
- It promotes senior safety by making the home easier to move through.
Downsizing typically means less upkeep, which can help older adults who have a difficult time staying on top of household chores. Additionally, eliminating clutter has significant psychological benefits. A clutter-free room doesn’t just clear up living space; it can also clear the mind.
When Should Seniors Downsize?
It’s better that downsizing for seniors happen sooner, rather than later since starting at a younger age can reduce the physical and emotional toll. It’s not uncommon to develop strong attachments to belongings, especially ones with high sentimental value. However, waiting to downsize later in life can make it a sadder, more stressful, and emotionally taxing time.
According to Investopedia, knowing when to downsize differs based on each seniors’ situation. There are several factors older adults and their loved ones should consider when deciding the right time to downsize.
Factors To Consider When Considering Downsizing
Most older adults have to stretch their budget because their income is smaller than it was before retirement. For many, this means lowering expenses that come from having a larger home. Even so, deciding to make this move is a challenging choice.
Putting a house on the market can be costly, especially if it needs to be renovated. Additionally, it’s essential to factor other costs such as hiring a realtor and capital gains taxes.
On top of the costs associated with buying or renting a new home, older adults need to assess closing costs, the cost of hiring a moving company, and other unexpected fees.
Depending on how far away an elder moves, they may leave behind friends, relatives, and neighbors they’ve known for years.
Conflating sentimental value with the house’s actual market value can cause many people to incorrectly believe their home is worth more. Before putting their home up for sale, older adults should talk to several real estate agents and appraisers to get a better idea of how much their home is worth.
Seniors need to calculate every expense connected to moving to decide if moving is the right decision. Exports suggest creating a list of costs between the old and new houses, such as:
- Visiting family and friends, running errands, or commuting to work.
- Insurance, property taxes, HOA fees
Seniors’ health plays a large role in decision-making. For example, a house with more than one floor may not be suitable for elders who have limited mobility. There are several home modifications for seniors, but updating the home isn’t for everyone. Downsizing to a smaller house might be ideal for seniors because it means less upkeep.
Downsizing For Seniors: A Checklist
Seniors might already have a mental list of things in the kitchen and garage they’re ready to part with. But instead of starting with large spaces like these, seniors should work up from smaller rooms, preferably ones with minimal emotional connection.
Similarly, older adults should be realistic about their needs. If the new place only has one bedroom, then only need two sheet sets are necessary.
Keep in mind that large areas such as the basement, garage, and attic are the most challenging rooms to downsize. If seniors try to take these rooms on first, they might wind up overwhelming themselves and stopping before they get ahead.
Set a Realistic Timeframe
Downsizing for seniors can be a long, intensive process, so seniors should make sure they give themselves plenty of time by starting early. Most experts recommend a month since it allows older adults to take their time and avoid rushing. Seniors should go through each room one by one and allow for frequent breaks.
Get Rid Of Rooms You Won’t Have
Typically when seniors move to a smaller home, it won’t have a garage, large yard, or other extra spaces. That means getting rid of almost everything in the garage, backyard shed, or the home office.
Eliminate Duplicate Items
Downsizing is the time to get rid of those extra cooking utensils, pots, pans, and specialized cooking tools. If seniors feel apprehensive about getting rid of an appliance or utensil, such as a roasting pan they only use during the holidays, offer it to another relative who can lend it back as needed.
Say “No” To “Maybe”
When downsizing for seniors, divide belongings into a “keep” and “get rid of” pile. Don’t create a category for “maybe” items because it will only make it harder to make a firm decision. Bring frequently used items and get rid of ones that have been forgotten or gone unused for more than a year.
Find A New Way To Display Collections
One of the hardest parts of downsizing for seniors is deciding what to do with collectibles. When moving into a smaller home, it’s best to leave these things behind since they will take up valuable space or stay in storage anyway. So rather than holding onto these items, older adults should select their favorites and take high-quality pictures of everything else. They can put these pictures in a photo album or scrapbook and keep them on display for everyone to enjoy.
Similarly, these collectibles and antiques might be items seniors intend to pass on to loved ones. Rather than waiting to distribute these items in a will, consider giving them away earlier. Not only will getting rid of these belongings make it easier to downsize, but seniors can also appreciate how it feels when their loved ones receive them.
Online marketplaces like Craigslist, Facebook, and eBay are a great way to downsize for seniors and make a little supplemental money. However, this can be a time-intensive endeavor, so consider that before moving forward. For those who feel unsure using these sites, ask the grandkids for assistance. Alternatively, seniors could sell their things the old fashioned way during a yard sale or hire an estate sale company.
Allow Time For Reminiscing
Another reason seniors should give themselves plenty of time to downsize is so they have time to remember the past. It’s okay to feel nostalgic as you sort and clean. Cry if needed, or work on a different space and return when ready. As long as reminiscing doesn’t stop seniors from downsizing, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t stop yourself from doing so.
Make It A Family Affair
Older adults should ask their children and grandkids to join them because it gives them a chance to share memories and reminisce with others. Telling the stories behind treasured heirlooms will provide them with more context and appreciate the items even more. Family members can also help with other aspects of downsizing, such as packing and moving boxes and selling things online.
Downsizing for seniors can ensure independence and safety while aging in place. But if you or a loved one needs additional support, such as meal preparation, ADLs, transportation, and more, we can help.
Meetcaregivers provides qualified, in-home caregivers for seniors. Call us at 1-888-541-1136 and learn how we can match you or your loved one with the perfect caregiver.
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- “10 Reasons Why Downsizing Is Beneficial for Seniors.” 10 Reasons Why Downsizing Is Beneficial for Seniors | SeniorDirectory.com, seniordirectory.com/articles/info/10-reasons-why-downsizing-is-beneficial-for-seniors.MYMOVE.
- “Senior-Friendly Guide to Downsizing.” MYMOVE, 30 July 2020, www.mymove.com/moving/guides/senior-guide-downsizing/.
- Parker, Tim. “When Should Retirees Downsize Their Home?” Investopedia, Investopedia, 22 Nov. 2019, www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/100116/when-should-retirees-downsize-homes.asp.