Tips for Downsizing to Senior Living

downsizing to senior living

When you were a child, you might have read the fairy tale about the lady who lived in the shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do. Downsizing can feel like that—so many decisions, so many piles of stuff, so many moments when you wish you could close your eyes and make it all go away. Unless…you are downsizing to senior living and a more carefree lifestyle…now that’s a story with a very happy ending! 

All it takes is a little planning, a little imagination, and the desire to be free of things that might be weighing you down. 

Here are a few tips for how to ease into downsizing to senior living.

Give yourself enough time. When you have your very first thoughts of making a move to a senior living community, think about what you could do without. Start the process. Take it slow. And even if you’re not sure what choices you’ll make for your retirement, it’s never a bad idea to lighten your load. Less in your closet is less to worry about. Less in your attic is less to trip over. Downsizing to senior living can be done at your pace. Starting early is a bonus. 

Take the approach that works for you. Comfortable, cleansing, cathartic. That’s what downsizing to senior living can be if you do what feels right for you. For example, if you are a planner, come up with a plan. You can always revise it later. But start out with an idea of how you want to proceed. It might be listing the items you absolutely want to keep. Deciding which closet you’ll tackle first. Researching local charities that would appreciate receiving furniture you no longer need. Devising a timeline so you can mark off tasks as you complete them. 

Or, if you prefer a more easygoing approach, you might decide each morning what you’ll do that day. Clean out a cabinet. Separate old jackets and clothes into separate piles of “donate” and “keep.” It might feel good to go through a few drawers of mementos or photos and relive the memories. Don’t pressure yourself to do more than you are up for at the moment. Downsizing to senior living is not something to do in a hurry.


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Think about what makes you happy—and what you actually use. If there’s an item or collection of items that makes you smile, but isn’t something you use anymore, consider photographing it so you can store it online and view it any time you’d like. Such as a collection of beer steins. Favorite porcelain figurines. Your wedding dress. It can be anything that brings you joy and that you don’t want to forget, you just don’t want to take it with you. 

Consider a temporary home for an item. One minute you don’t want to take it with you. The next minute, you do. Rather than let a decision cause you anxiety and slow down the process, ask a friend or family member if they could temporarily store an item or piece of furniture for you. Then after you’ve made your move to your new apartment home in senior living, you can decide if you want to keep it.

Give yourself permission to let go. It’s easy to get attached to things you’ve had for years. But it’s good to remember they are just that—things. You own things, they don’t own you. Even if they were given to you as a gesture of love, it’s that love you will always hold in your heart. You can literally say, “I’ve enjoyed you, I’m grateful I had you all these years, but now it’s time to give you a new home.” You might be surprised just how good that feels!

Make it fun. Put on some lively music. Dress in loose and comfortable clothing. Make some tea and have some snacks on hand. Invite a friend or two to help. Coax your grandchildren into dropping by so you can share favorite memories with them. And anytime you feel tired or overwhelmed, stop and take a walk or rest. Remember, you decide when you’re ready.

Be open to all possibilities. It doesn’t always have to be an “either or” proposition. You might start with multiple piles (yes, no, maybe) and then pare down from there. Be sure to have an area designated for things you want to donate—remember it might bring joy to someone in need. 

Every journey begins with a step, and downsizing to senior living is like that. 

It’s a great way to get a feel for what you have, what matters most to you, and look forward to a lifestyle that frees you to explore, enjoy, and experience life as never before. 

Connect with us.

At Senior Star, we are here to help. We enjoy thoughtful conversations about how we can best assist you, and it is our pleasure to be of service, no matter where your journey leads you. Download our free guide Choosing The Right Community. Questions about senior living?  Contact us to learn more.


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