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How to Downsize While Still Keeping What You Love

A senior couple take a break on the couch while downsizing and packing things into boxes

For many retirees, downsizing from a family home into a senior living community is desirable because it represents freedom. With a smaller space demanding attention and upkeep, there’s more time to enjoy all the perks of a retirement lifestyle. Even so, a stumbling block some retirees encounter is what to do with all their treasured belongings.

Downsizing doesn’t have to mean parting with beloved possessions. In fact, sorting through decades of belongings gives you the perfect opportunity to cull out those you no longer want or need so you only carry your most meaningful personal effects with you into your new home.

Learn how to downsize your home and get ready for the exciting new lifestyle that awaits with these tips.


Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Give yourself plenty of time.

Sorting through a home filled with memories is sure to take days, if not weeks, and all those trips down memory lane are sure to make for an emotional journey. It’s not an experience that should be rushed; rather, savor those moments and make reminiscing part of your reward for completing the job.

Plan to tackle the house one room at a time, and start with a smaller space like a bathroom or laundry room, where you’re less likely to have things with sentimental value. That way, as you move into other rooms where precious memories are stored, you’ll have a rhythm established that makes the process of combing through your prized possessions more productive and rewarding. 

Be practical as you plan for your new space.

You may find yourself questioning what you really have space for to bring to your new home. Think about the floor plan of your retirement community home. How many bedrooms will you have? Are there ample kitchen cabinets? What other storage spaces are available?

Some decisions will be relatively easy, like parting with excess furniture when you have more bedroom suites than you do bedrooms. Similarly, over the years, you’ve undoubtedly accumulated duplicates of items like towels and other linens, as well as kitchen implements like cutting boards and cookware. Choose your favorites of these items (for example, limiting to one favorite sheet set and one backup set for each bed in your new home), and sell or donate the rest.

Cut out all the clutter.

It’s natural for a home to be filled with clutter. However, as you’re downsizing, it’s the perfect time to eliminate the extras. Particularly as you’re transitioning into retirement and celebrating a lifetime of accomplishments, it’s the ideal time to surround yourself with the things that make you happy. Take a note from tidying expert and best-selling author Marie Kondo and keep only the things that “spark joy.” Using this philosophy, you can focus on the present and feel more empowered to let go of the things that no longer hold an esteemed place in your heart so you can more fully appreciate those that do.

Get creative with space hogs.

Some items near and dear to your heart simply won’t fit into your new home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take them with you! Filling a photo album or digital frame with pictures of a collection you won’t have room to display is one creative solution. Clothing you’ve been hanging on to for sentimental reasons can be converted into a cozy quilt. Shadow boxes allow you to use wall space to display smaller sentimental items that may have occupied a dresser or counter. 

Another option is to create a scrapbook of things that hold a place in your heart but won’t fit in your new home. Include photos of the items, along with written descriptions about what they mean to you.

Keep treasures in the family.

If you find that space is growing short but there are still beloved items you can’t bear to let go, entrust your loved ones with belongings that hold special meaning. Passing on treasures to your children and grandchildren at this stage of life allows you to see your family members using and appreciating them, and that’s a special kind of joy in its own right. For example, you might pass the bulk of your sewing supplies to a granddaughter who learned her love of needlework on your knee, or hand off the cookie cutters you used with your own daughter so she can form similar memories with your grandchildren.


Ready to downsize?

If you’re just starting on your retirement journey, the first step is finding a retirement community that feels like home. Springpoint’s New Jersey and Delaware senior living communities offer numerous living options and abundant amenities so you can start enjoying retirement living right away. Contact us to learn more about our communities, and be sure to ask about our free downsizing guide and Move Ahead Program, including downsizing services to help you set up your new home.


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