At some point, most independent seniors decide it’s best to leave their longtime familial home and transition to a smaller, more easily managed living space. The whole process — from choosing your new home and getting rid of excess stuff to packing and actually physically moving — can be stressful and emotional. In the end, however, it’s a rewarding experience for most. Here’s what you need to know before you begin.
What You Should Prioritize in a New Home
The goal of downsizing into a smaller home is to be independent there for the rest of your life. With that in mind, there are some elements you should prioritize during your house hunting.
● Location, location, location. Your new home should be close to many of the locations you need to go on a daily basis. Walkable is best!
● Floorplan. If you have a disability, mobility issue, or illness that will eventually cause issues, then it’s imperative you consider homes with accessible designs (one-story, little-to-no stairs, wide doorways and hallways, accessible kitchen and bathroom design)
● Reduced yard care. It will get harder for you to take care of a large outdoor space as you age, and paying for it every month can get costly.
● It has no more space than you need. Determine your living needs and find a home that meets but does not exceed those needs.
● It’s under budget. Finances become tighter as we age, and what you can afford now may not be what you can afford in 10 years. Reduce your overall stress by buying a less-expensive home than you think you can.
How to Downsize Your Belongings
There’s no easy way to get rid of stuff — some of which you have emotional attachments to. However, you can make it more manageable by going about it in a smart way.
First, use your new home as the ultimate guide for what you’re keeping and what you’re getting rid of. If you don’t have a defined place for something in your new home, it doesn’t go with you — it’s that simple. Seniors should focus on paring down their kitchenware and clothing — that’s where good downsizing gains can be achieved. When it comes to sentimental items, try to find them a good home (with a child, niece or nephew, sibling) or, if all else fails, digitize your memories (scan photos and store on a computer so that you can get rid of physical copies).
Take a room-by-room approach to downsizing. Finish one room completely before moving on. Take it slow. Get started today and trash or donate one item for every item you choose to keep. The more methodical you are about this, the better.
Proper Packing and Moving Will Make It or Break It
Don’t practice care in the house hunting and downsizing part of the process and then just let the chips fall where they may when it comes to the final part of the process — packing and moving.
Proper packing will ensure the move and the unpacking phase is stress-free. Remember to never pack boxes too heavy, and use more smaller boxes as opposed to fewer larger boxes. Use clothing, towels, and other soft materials to fill the gaps in your boxes. Packing involves a lot more lifting and moving than you think, so it’s vital that you protect your back as you go. A good lifting technique involves taking a wide stance, squatting, pushing upwards with your legs, and keeping the box or other heavy item close to your body.
As far as actual moving goes, getting help is the smart play. For one, movers can get the job done faster and with less chance of damage to your belongings. Hiring movers also helps you stay injury free and lets you relax and distance yourself from the process.
Your new life is about to begin. Get through this difficult process of downsizing and your reward lies on the other side — true independence!
Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash