Downsizing Tips for Seniors

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2020)

By Charles Davenport Contributing Writer

It’s never easy to downsize, but as we get older, we inevitably accumulate things we don’t need. Downsizing helps promote a simpler lifestyle, eases a transition or move, and helps cut costs when it comes to getting rid of things like a storage unit. Significant changes like downsizing can often be stressful, yet it does not have to be. Here are some simple tips to make downsizing a much simpler and less stressful process.

Don’t Wait Too Long

When it comes to getting rid of our possessions, most of us are guilty of putting it off for as long as possible. Downsizing is a process that can take longer than we plan and if a person is being forced to move during a health change or crisis, they may not have ample time to go through their entire living space. As such, it is better to start downsizing before any external pressures make the process more stressful. It is crucial to plan. Add extra time to make sure to go through all the items properly.

Start in Rooms with Fewer Memories

Seniors should not start the process of downsizing in a room full of family mementos. When they do that, they may never make it to another room. That’s why the process should start in a more basic or utilitarian room. Start in a place like a closet. A closet full of sheets and towels will not contain a lot of sentiment. It will make the process quicker and easier. When there’s very little emotion attached to downsizing, the process is speedy.

Now Is Not the Time to Double Up

After living in one place for a long time, seniors may realize they’ve accumulated quite a bit ofstuff. If the goal is to downsize, now is not the time to hold onto duplicates. Chances are they do not need three spatulas or four frying pans. Seniors should start with a collection of things they absolutely want. From there, anything that does not make the cut in that collection is something that can probably be sold or donated. Seniors should be wary of making a “maybe” pile. Make firm yes or no decisions. If seniors spend a lot of time with the “maybe” pile, they may be stuck downsizing forever.

Make A Little Money

Recently there has been a proliferation of many online sales platforms. Seniors might be able to make a little money selling the things they no longer want. Places like eBay and Craig’s List are very convenient. They are a great alternative to rounding up items into a yard sale. Even for people who are not savvy with the internet, a garage sale is always an option. For those with many antiques, paintings, and/or furniture, contacting an estate sale company may be the way to go.

Make “Now” the Time to Give Gifts

Many seniors have items they plan to leave to their family. Now may be the time to do just that. This is a better choice than packing those things up and leaving them sitting until after they pass away. The obvious benefit is that seniors do not need to pack items and store them. The second benefit is the joy of being able to see how much those that receive the gifts enjoy them.

Save Time to Remember

Seniors pouring through prized possessions may find items that will give them pause. Seniors should allow themselves some time to remember. Take a moment to reminisce about the memories attached to those items. Seniors need to remember they are not discarding memories. Giving away a 40-year-old keepsake does not mean giving away the memories. If there is no time crunch, seniors should take all the time they need to downsize. Make firm decisions and err on the side of cutting more than less. If the goal is to downsize, seniors should not hold onto items of marginal emotional value. Seniors should enjoy all the memories of their items and enjoy creating a new, clutter-free life for themselves.

Written by Charles Davenport for Senior Planning. Senior Planning offers free services to seniors looking to move into assisted living, care homes, and independent living.

Downsizing Tips for Seniors