With the number of Baby Boomers now in retirement, many caring for aging parents, the idea of downsizing is becoming a hot topic. Even though some seniors can easily make this choice, it can often be a highly emotional transition. Seniors and their loved ones can make this process easier by breaking it down into manageable steps.
Phase 1 - Planning
The first decision that goes into planning is determining where you should live. Some seniors forgo traditional retirement communities in favor of downsizing to a smaller home. For someone who is in good health, finding a smaller, more accessible home can be a good option. There is even technology that can make aging at home safer.
The problem with aging in place, even in an accessible home, is that many seniors end up needing more help. Two of the most common choices for senior living are independent living communities and assisted living facilities. While these options have some similarities, there are also big differences that impact your day-to-day life. Independent living communities are designed for seniors to have their own residence, along with shared spaces, services, and amenities that make everyday life easier. Assisted living centers have a similar setup, but they also help with personal care needs like bathing, getting dressed, and managing medications.
You'll also need to go through the process of selling your home. It can be an overwhelming experience, which is why it's a good idea to hire professionals to help with this process. Look for a reliable real estate agent to walk you through every step. When it comes to prepping your home for buyers, consider hiring a freelance virtual staging expert. This professional can work with you to figure out the best way to present your home to buyers.
Phase 2 - Sorting Belongings
No matter how you downsize, part of the process involves sorting through your belongings. Remember to break this down into steps so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to do too much at once. Start by organizing and then sorting everything into categories. AARP recommends using six categories: move, sell, toss, donate, up for grabs, and pass along. Family members can also be a tremendous help when you have a hard time deciding which category things should go in.
Sorting through a lifetime of possessions can bring up lots of emotions. It’s okay to feel sad, but you can also make this a positive experience by reflecting on special memories. This is also a great time to catalog photos and choose which ones to keep on display in your new home.
Phase 3 - Packing and Moving
One of the best strategies for making this move easier is to recreate your home’s layout as much as possible. Before packing, take pictures of each room so you can set up your new home in the same way to make it feel more familiar.
When you start packing boxes, make sure they’re labeled so that movers know exactly where to put them — and you know where to find everything when it’s time to unpack. You also want to pack a special bag for moving day. Pack like you would when going on a trip, with a few changes of clothes and all essentials, especially medications. You can make the packing process easier by purchasing useful organizational and storage products from COMPONO, such as shoe organizers and under-the-bed storage containers. These will also come in handy when you arrive at the new home, since they can serve as space savers.
Phase 4 - Settling In
After the big day comes and goes, it may take a little time to adjust. The most important thing is to avoid making this change on your own. Stay in communication with friends and family members. If you’re a caregiver helping a senior move, check in with them frequently in those first few weeks. And don’t discount simple things you can do to make your new place feel comfortable like home. Sixty and Me recommends stocking your refrigerator with good food. Other things you can do include hanging new curtains or blinds, having carpet or furniture professionally steam cleaned, putting up pictures right away, and keeping fresh flowers in your home.
These small steps may seem trivial, but they’re the things that make a new place feel like home. Downsizing for seniors can be scary and unsettling. It can also be a positive change, and easier for everyone, when you approach it with careful planning and compassion.