Downsizing Tips for Seniors Looking to Age in Place

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Updated: June 9, 2022

Living in a large home can eventually become a burden once the kids have moved away and established lives of their own. Many seniors decide to downgrade the size of their homes because they no longer need the extra space.

Furthermore, the money they receive from selling their homes can provide the financial cushion they need to enjoy a comfortable retirement. While the process of downsizing isn’t exactly easy, there are certainly ways to make the process more manageable. Let’s look at a few downsizing tips for seniors looking to age in place.


1. Take advantage of new technology to save space

Photos may be worth a thousand words, but they also can take up significant space as they pile up over the years. This also applies to DVDs, CDs, records and more. To save on space, consider utilizing the latest technology and purchase an external hard drive or cloud storage to help you store all of these items.

Don’t worry, your younger family members should be able to handle the job for you without much effort. Let them handle the complicated tech stuff. Just have them show you how to access all of your files once they’ve finished uploading everything to your digital storage!


2. Give yourself time to move

It’s human nature to procrastinate. However, you should give yourself plenty of time to pack your belongings before your move date. You can even start as soon as a few months before the expected move date to really get a head start.

Write down everything that needs to be packed away on your calendar to help keep you organized. As a last bit of advice, pack the things you use on a daily basis (such as silverware for example) last so you can still have easy access to these items until it’s time for you to move.


3. Create a checklist

Creating a checklist will make the workflow that much easier. Grouping all of your items into categories will keep you organized and orderly, and it’ll ensure that everything will go where it needs to be. Keep your checklist in an easy to reach place such as your refrigerator or countertop.

4. Take it one room at a time

Packing without a plan always feels like a never-ending job. When you take it one room at a time then the process of packing won’t seem quite as bad. Don’t forget to label your boxes so that when you unpack at your new place, you’ll be able to do so in an orderly fashion.


5. Choose items to give to your loved ones

Since you’re downsizing, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to let go of belongings that you hold near and dear to your heart. It can be difficult to let go of sentimental items you’ve grown to love over the years, but perhaps it’s time you passed it along to your children or grandchildren.

Think about the last time you used some of the items in your home. If they’re simply collecting dust in a cabinet somewhere, then perhaps it’s time to let them go. Passing on your sentimental belongings will allow your family to put them to use once more.


6. Recognize what can’t be thrown away

It’s understandable if your first reaction upon entering a cluttered garage is to throw away everything you can’t fit into your new home. However, you can’t just toss anything and everything that looks like trash into the bin.

Hazardous materials such as cans of paint, cleaning products, batteries, and tires should not be thrown into your trash can. These materials are hazardous to the environment and should be disposed of properly.

Call your local sanitation department to determine how to dispose of items that are toxic or hazardous. Keep in mind that if you intend on renting a dumpster then there are certain materials that disposal companies aren’t willing to accept.

These companies often reject rocks, concrete, appliances, bricks, and electronics. Learn what can’t be thrown away in advance to avoid possible complications on trash day.


7. Ask for help

Downsizing is a big job, but it’ll go much faster if you had some help. It is the filial responsibility of your children (and grandchildren too) to help you in times of need. If you have teenage grandkids, you can have them help you move heavy furniture and other difficult to move goods. Family members can also help to take items to the dump, donation center, or recycling center.


8. Consider getting storage

Downsizing doesn’t always mean you have to dispose of everything that won’t fit into your new home. If your finances allow it, you can rent a storage unit. This will allow you to comfortably move into your new dwelling while still keeping some of the things you hold near and dear to your heart.

If you decide to go this route, wait until you’ve confirmed where you’ll be living first. That way you can look for a local storage facility. This will make things easier on you and your family.


9. Wrap your fragile belongings with packing material

We’ve all been in those situations where we’ve been forced to move fragile goods (like glassware for example). The best way to transport these goods is to have plenty of packing material on hand.

Old bed sheets, newspaper, and printing paper will serve this job perfectly. That way you can move into your new home or apartment without worrying about breaking apart your glass goods.


Downsizing the right way

Downsizing is a great option for senior citizens who decide to age in place. Creating a well thought out plan, in advance, will greatly simplify your move and ensure you’re fully prepared. Make sure to ask for help from family and friends to make your transition that much easier!

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