The majority of older adults preparing for a move to an independent senior living community will find that they have more in their current homes than they need (or that will fit) in their new space. Areas like a garage, attic, generous closet spaces and multiple bedrooms where clothes, appliances and gadgets reside now may not be available in your new apartment or cottage. That means that the first thing you need to do before your move is start to downsize… and right-size your life for the new space.
Here are some downsizing tips we’ve learned over the years in helping our residents at Beacon Hill make the transition to independent senior living.
Why Should I Downsize?
Downsizing involves reviewing your belongings and tossing, donating or selling what you no longer need. But why downsize in the first place? Well, for those moving into an independent living community, the new space they will reside in is often a bit cozier than the family home they used to own. Fewer rooms and smaller floor plans mean less maintenance and upkeep, but will require paring down one’s belongings to fit. Successful downsizing means less clutter and less to move. It also means more time for taking part in community activities and meeting others when you arrive.
6 Strategies for Stress-Free Downsizing
1. Make a Plan
Most people who make the decision to move into an independent living community have the luxury of a little extra time to prepare for their move. You can actually start decluttering your home as you are looking at and touring senior living communities.
Regardless of your situation, it is helpful to make a plan before you start downsizing. What will your process be? How will you organize what you want to keep versus what you can donate and what you can throw out? Is there anyone you can ask for help?
2. Enlist Help From Friends & Family
If you have children, reach out to them early if they have any personal belongings stored in your home. Consider having them block off a weekend or two to visit and sort through these items. They may even be able to help you make progress on downsizing your own belongings.
Ask your friends and family if they would be able to make some time to help out. You can also use this time to visit and share a cup of tea, coffee or wine during breaks.
3. Work One Room at a Time
Many people find that tackling one room at a time makes downsizing much easier than if you move back and forth between different rooms. Certain rooms, like a bathroom, may be smaller and easier than others to declutter. A basement or attic used for storage? Those can take longer, so you may want to do those first and give yourself more time to go through them.
4. Have a System in Place
It’s important to have a system in place for sorting your belongings. At a minimum you’ll want containers reserved for things you absolutely cannot do without and items you know you can get rid of. You will more than likely want to sort the belongings you can get rid of into a donate and a discard pile. There may even be opportunities to sell some possessions online or via third-party auction houses as well.
5. Donate What You Can
Gently used items that will not fit in the new space and which don’t have sentimental value can be donated to charitable organizations. This is both good for the environment and can also help someone in need. Some organizations, like Habitat for Humanity and Salvation Army, even offer free donation pick-up services. Many donations are even tax deductible, so be sure to keep your donation receipts.
6. Only Keep the Essentials
Ultimately, you should think about the space you have available in your new independent living residence and challenge yourself to only keep what will fit within that space. Sure, you could rent a storage unit, but then you or your family are eventually going to have to sort through that, too. Chances are that if you are willing to put something into a storage unit, it’s not essential.
Explore Senior Living Options at Beacon Hill
At Beacon Hill, a senior living community in Lombard, Illinois, we work closely with incoming residents to help make their move into independent living as smooth as possible. Life at Beacon Hill is one of supportive independence, where residents make the most of each day with access to thoughtful amenities and exceptional services.
Contact us to learn more about the moving process and what life is like, or to schedule a tour to see what life is like here.