Downsizing for Seniors — Tips and Tricks

Elderly couple moving, holding moving boxes

Moving can be an exhilarating experience. It can also be stressful when it comes to managing the details of making a move, especially when downsizing, or moving from an older, larger home to a newer, smaller home, apartment, or senior living community. Making the move to a new space doesn't have to be overwhelming, however. Retirees looking to move from their current home to a new space could benefit from the following tips and tricks for downsizing for seniors.

10 Downsizing Tips for Older Adults

Downsizing can be a boon for older adults. Benefits of senior downsizing include:

Despite being beneficial for seniors, downsizing can also be harder for older people than younger folks for a variety of reasons, including limited income (if retired) and having less physical strength to move boxes.

For seniors who want to downsize but would like a little help, the following tips can streamline the downsizing process.

1. Hire Specialized Moving Companies

Most people aren't professional organizers, so actually packing everything away can be difficult for people of any age. Seniors with physical limitations, like rheumatoid arthritis or back injuries, might be especially limited when it comes to the physical aspects of moving to a new home. If family members or close friends can't help older people with the moving process, it may be time to contact professional senior move managers®.

These professionals are movers who work exclusively with older people, so they know the special needs of older adults who are making the move to a smaller home, apartment, or retirement community. They can handle the packing, transportation, and unpacking processes to make the move that much easier. They are also trained in ethics and safety, with hires screened for insurance.

To find a move manager in their area, older people can visit the official site of the National Association of Specialty & Senior Move Managers®.

2. Choose Multifunctional Pieces

The whole point of downsizing is to go to a place with a smaller floor plan. That means having less square footage to work with, so each piece of furniture, every heirloom, and all knick-knacks have to earn their place. Oftentimes the best choice is to choose multifunctional pieces of furniture. This way, older people get the same functionality as multiple pieces while saving on valuable floor space.
For example, a side table next to a couch or recliner should be more than a simple slat of wood supported by legs; it should come with storage space underneath, too. This way, the room has more valuable storage space without taking up any more space than necessary.

3. Don't Neglect Mirrors

Sometimes optical illusions can enhance the look and feel of a smaller space. To make a smaller room look larger, for example, adding a large mirror to a wall can give the appearance of a larger, brighter room, all without taking any valuable floor space.

4. Take It Slow

Older people have likely lived in their current home for decades. Making the decision to downsize can therefore be incredibly emotional, which can muddy the decision-making aspects of moving. For example, it can be hard to let go of certain items, and waiting until the last minute can create unnecessary stress and lead to people accidentally tossing sentimental items in a rush. To avoid this scenario, it's always best to plan and sort items out well ahead of the moving date.

5. Rent a Storage Unit

For memorabilia that simply won't fit into a smaller space or for people who don't have enough time to sift through heirlooms before moving day, renting a storage unit could be the solution. These units can securely house all items that won't be making the move to a smaller location without the worry that someone has parted with something precious and irreplaceable.

6. Ax the Duplicates

When space is tight, every object has to justify its presence. In this way, it's important to go through items and pieces of furniture that are not necessary for a smaller location, like duplicates. For example, if an older couple is selling their home to move into an independent living community, they could sell extra dining room chairs and only bring the ones they need to their new home. Or, if they are moving to an assisted living facility, they will likely have access to a communal dining room and not need their old dining set at all. The point is to see which items serve the same function and ax the extras.

7. Prioritize Important Documents

Moving can be stressful and emotional, which can make even the most logical of people make rash decisions. That is why it's important to take the time to specifically catalog important documents, like birth certificates, tax returns, and real estate paperwork.

8. Hold a Garage Sale

A tried-and-true way to get rid of excess items and bring in some extra cash is to host a yard sale. Or, if there is not enough space or time to host a sale, it's possible to simply donate the unneeded items to Goodwill or a similar secondhand shop.

9. Take a Tour (and Take Notes)

People making the move to senior living can reduce a great amount of stress and make planning much easier by touring their chosen community in person. During the tour, older people can take measurements and notes of their future room to better decide which pieces can make the move and which cannot. This tour can also introduce future residents to their new neighbors, making the move seem less stressful now that they know people in the community.

10. Meet with a Financial Advisor

Moving can be pricey, even when downsizing. That is why some people may benefit from meeting with a financial advisor who can help older people decide what new homes or senior communities are in their budget, what moving services they can hire, and what costs are covered by insurance. Having a financial plan can take away some of the stress of moving, which makes the overall experience that much easier for all involved.

Related Posts

  • Elderly man and grand child doing yoga on floor, in living room

    5 Easy Chair Yoga Exercises for Seniors

    In the pursuit of holistic well-being as you age, many people may be in search of a low-impact form of [...]

  • Three elderly people smiling with thumbs up

    What are the Seven Dimensions of Wellness?

    Health is not just physical fitness— it's so much more. At St. Andrew's, providing comprehensive, whole-person care is intricately woven into [...]