For some seniors, the decision to downsize has to do with wanting to live a more simplistic life. For others, it is the result of needing to move to a place where additional support is available, or to a location that is closer to relatives and friends.
But how do you know when it’s the right time to downsize? While ultimately a personal choice, below are four signs to look for if you’re considering downsizing.
4 Signs It’s Time to Downsize
You’re ready for less home maintenance.
A large home or apartment can require a significant amount of maintenance and upkeep. Seniors who downsize often want to spend less time doing chores around the house and more time doing things they enjoy in retirement.
Additionally, some chores like shoveling snow or cleaning the gutters, may be too difficult or dangerous.
Moving to a smaller home, or a senior living community, often means less work (or none at all) around the house.
You have health or mobility concerns.
Stairs and bathtubs can present a challenge to older adults with limited mobility. Senior living communities are designed to be accessible. Common areas like dining rooms and activity spaces are usually located on the same floor, while residences typically offer walk-in bathtubs.
In addition to helping you with daily tasks like bathing and grooming, many assisted living communities offer robust wellness programs. Residents usually have access to on-site doctor visits or transportation to community medical providers.
You want to be closer to friends or family.
If friends or family members have moved away, you may be considering a move to be closer to them. Or, perhaps you’re looking to meet new friends who share similar interests.
Downsizing and moving to a new home closer to friends and family can help you revamp your social life and stay connected.
You’re ready for a simpler lifestyle.
If you’ve lived in your current home for years or decades, you may have accumulated a lot of stuff that’s not needed anymore. For many people, downsizing can be a chance to let go of the things you no longer need or want in retirement.
If you enjoy traveling, downsizing can also mean less to worry about while you’re gone — making it easier to pack up and go.
Who Can Help Me Downsize?
A good way to begin downsizing is by seeking a senior move manager. Senior move managers help older adults with the logistical and emotional tasks of relocation (or for those staying put, to pare down possessions).
A manager will interview the client about his/her home and possessions in order to learn what’s most important, create an inventory, and help seniors make decisions about what to keep and discard.
Services may vary, but typically the manager will help coordinate the following:
- Packing items
- Hiring movers (or handling the move themself)
- Donating, and selling valuable goods
- Planning the way items will fit into the new location
- Communicating with utility companies
- Changing addresses for subscriptions
Senior move managers can also work with family members who live far away, as well as with estate attorneys, social workers, and others to create a unified agreed-upon plan for downsizing
To find a senior move manager in your area, visit the National Association of Senior Move Managers for an accredited senior move professional.
Is Downsizing Difficult?
The emotional impact for seniors of dismantling a home where they may have lived for decades can be substantial. According to David J. Ekerdt, Ph.D., people over age 50 become progressively less able to get rid of their belongings.
However, while it can be challenging, the process can be ultimately rewarding. Whatever your goal is — to live a simpler lifestyle, or to have support for health concerns — downsizing can help you make life changes to ensure you’re spending your retirement on your terms.
Next read: Downsizing Tips
Downsizing can be tough, but with the right assistance and a plan, it doesn’t have to be debilitating. For more tips about tackling clutter and downsizing, read our blog on tips for decluttering and downsizing.