Decluttering and Downsizing for Seniors: Tips and Tricks

As we age, our needs change over time, especially with regard to our living situation. For many seniors, it’s not unusual to find themselves living in a house that is too big for them, particularly after their families have moved out. What’s more, possessions can accumulate at an alarming rate, and oftentimes the same individuals find themselves staring into the overstuffed junk drawer in the kitchen or the messy garage and wondering, Where did all of this come from? Do I really need all of this?

And while there’s nothing wrong with living comfortably, many people—particularly seniors who are considering a different living situation—find that after a while, their possessions and space begin to feel like more of a burden than anything else.

Whatever your reasons are for downsizing, moving into a smaller space can be a difficult process. However, it can also be a rewarding one, particularly if you use it as an opportunity to shed the things that are no longer useful to you. Here, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of downsizing in retirement, as well as going over a few helpful strategies for how to start decluttering.

How To Know If You’re Ready To Downsize

When it comes to downsizing in retirement, there’s no correct age or one-size-fits-all rule about when you should do it. The right time to downsize will depend on your individual circumstances and preferences. However, there are a few factors that can serve as a helpful guide in approaching the decision:

  • Finances. Will your retirement savings and/or current income allow you to maintain your home comfortably? Would moving to a more inexpensive home free up money that you would rather use for something else (such as traveling)? Or based on your savings and assets, does it make sense to consider moving to a continuing care or Life Plan Community?
  • Safety and Health. Is your current home equipped in such a way that you will still be able to move around easily and comfortably, even if you experience health or mobility problems in the future?
  • Space and Logistics. Be honest with yourself—do you really need all of the space in your current home? What’s more, do you have time and energy to continue maintaining it?

Decluttering for Seniors: Getting Started

If you’ve decided to make the transition to a smaller space, odds are that you’ll have some decluttering to do. While the prospect of parting with some or most of your things may seem overwhelming, it can also produce positive change in your life. For example, experts agree that the benefits of decluttering include more energy and less anxiety, and that it can even lead to improvements in your health and productivity.

Here are a few helpful downsizing tips for seniors when the time comes:

  • Have a plan.
    As with any large project, it will be extremely important to break the decluttering process up into manageable chunks rather than trying to tackle the whole thing at once. Consider tackling your home by rooms or sections, or finding some other way to divide the work up before you get started.
  • Start early.
    Giving yourself plenty of time to downsize will be essential for reducing unnecessary stress. You won’t regret starting too soon, but you will definitely regret starting too late.
  • Technology is your friend.
    Paper clutter in the form of old records, letters, photos, and mementos can take up a lot of space. Rather than hauling around boxes filled with the hard copies, consider scanning them and uploading them to cloud storage.
  • Separate the memories from the items.
    Sentimental value is one of the biggest reasons that people tend to hold onto things, even if they rarely use them. While keeping a few precious mementos is normal, hanging on to too many can get problematic. Keep the things that you absolutely can’t bear to part with, and for the rest of them, remind yourself that the memories live in your heart, not the physical item. If you need to, you can always take pictures of the object and save them in a photo album.
  • Hire a professional.
    Moving later in life can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, there are a number of local and national resources available to help with the process of organizing, decluttering, and downsizing. These services are specifically intended to help seniors ease the transition into a smaller home or community, and offer a range of services from moving to packing/unpacking, and more. By bringing in professional help you’ll not only save yourself time and energy, but will also reduce the potential burden on your adult children and other family members.

Seabury provides peaceful living opportunities for adults ages 50 and older looking for fulfilling, independent lifestyles. Our philosophy centers the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness of our Residents. Living options range from independent apartments and villas to cottages as well. Our continuum of care model is designed to make Residents’ lives as comfortable as possible. Your Life Plan Contract at Seabury, should you require it in the future, also includes a transition to assisted living, memory support, and nursing care services for the same monthly fee. Contact us today for more information!