Five Tips to Downsize Before Moving into Your Senior Apartment

Making the transition to a senior apartment in a senior living community might seem a little daunting. But there are a lot of advantages to downsizing, or “right-sizing” as the case might be. Living life more simply and saying goodbye to the hardship of managing and maintaining a larger home are chief among them. 

In addition to the physical work that comes with cleaning and doing yard work, there are also the unexpected expenses. Especially in older age, the weight of these burdens can feel heavy. Moving to a more manageable space can bring with it a thrilling sense of freedom. It can also be safer and more convenient to enjoy your golden years without all of those stairs, icy walkways and outdated bathrooms.

But just because it’s the right choice to explore senior apartments, that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy step to take. Here are some tips to get you moving in the right direction when you downsize.

1. Start early and plan ahead

Preparing for any big change helps make you feel calmer and more confident. If you know you will be downsizing, it’s never too early to start preparing.

view a sample senior living move checklist here

Make a plan for what needs to be done. Chances are, you’re already spending time and energy thinking about – and possibly worrying about – what needs to be done. Even if the “to do” list you make seems long, you will feel better with those thoughts down on paper and a plan of action in the works. Set goals for yourself and a realistic timeline for what needs to be tackled between now and your upcoming move.

If you already have your new space lined up, familiarize yourself with the floor plan. Knowing the size and layout of your senior apartment will help you plan out the new space. It will also help you visualize yourself there. Be sure to measure furniture before you decide if it is making the move with you.

2. Declutter

We all have unfinished projects that stack up, and closets, drawers and shelves that over time become uncomfortably full. Now is the time to declutter. Identify what belongings fit with who you are now, in this age and stage of life, and say goodbye to the things that don’t.

If you have a sentimental streak and dread the decision-making that lies ahead, we suggest Marie Kondo’s method. Start with less sentimental items and go by category instead of by room, tackling first clothes and books, then papers before moving on to more sentimental items. If something still speaks to the heart and gives you joy, keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and let it go. Categorize items as keep, give away or toss, so you aren’t left with another big project of “maybes” to sort through when you’re done. 

When it comes to pictures, childhood art and other keepsakes, don’t be afraid to get creative. Is there a way, like digitizing, to preserve the memories and also save space?

Sort items into these categories: keep, giveaway, toss

Items you keep. On your road to minimalism, you will need to decide which belongings truly matter to you. You have to find a place for these in your new, smaller space, or you will need to store them. Knowing how much in-home storage your senior apartment has will help you decide if that is enough. Otherwise, you may need to look at a paid storage option. If an item will be in storage though, will it still give you joy? Asking that question may help you identify the treasures that are really near and dear to your heart. 

Items you give away. Downsizing is the perfect opportunity to gift items to family and friends. You can give a second life to appliances, clothes and other items that have long gone unused. You can preserve a piece of your family history by passing down photos or mementos from the past, along with the stories and context that give them meaning. You can create a cherished memory with a friend by passing along a keepsake. Gifting can help make your decluttering more joyful.

Items you toss. For less sentimental items you decide you no longer need, consider having an auction or garage sale to make extra money for your move. Otherwise, you can donate these items and feel good knowing they will go to someone who can use them. If you’re not by nature an organizer, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

3. Find ways to involve family and friends

Many hands make for light work. Enlist help from family, friends and neighbors to make organizing and decluttering more enjoyable. You are not just saying goodbye to old memories as you make this transition, you are also creating new ones. Make them good ones! 

Even for parts of the project where you feel like you need to go through things alone, call a friend to chat with on the phone while you do. The task will go more quickly and it may keep you from getting hung up for too long on a single item. Or, make plans to celebrate milestones with a friend to keep you motivated and accountable for meeting your goals. 

4. Make time for what’s important

Don’t become solely focused on your house projects: There is more to life than crossing things off of your “to do” list.

An elderly ethnic couple enjoy a cup of coffee together in the morning. They are sitting in their living room, in front of a picture window, and are holding their mugs and smiling at one another affectionately. He has his arm around her.

Make time for self-care. Don’t forget to take care of your emotions during this big transition. Likely, one of the reasons you are moving to a senior apartment is because you value your health. Don’t wait until you’ve made your move to make your physical and mental health a priority.

Take time with your treasures. Particularly for sentimental items, don’t rush big decisions. While you might be tight on time now, you don’t want regret as an unwelcome companion in your new space. 

Quality time with friends and family. You need your support system more than ever during times of change. Make time to see family and friends when you take a break from the house chores. You might also consider joining classes or clubs near your new location, or as part of your new community. This will help once you’re in your new space, and you might meet others who are making a similar transition. 

5. Make your future exciting

Change is not always easy, but it can be exciting. Make sure you have things to look forward to when you make your move. Maybe it’s a new piece of furniture or a piece of art you have been eyeing for a while. 

Even though the layout might be different for your senior apartment, you can still recreate the look and feel of your current home. Find ways to make your new space your own. 

You have made a good decision, and the effort it takes for you to downsize will be worth it. 

According to the American Society on Aging, “Even though most older adults would like to age in place, our analysis suggests that over the long run, aging in the right place may be more advantageous from a financial and health perspective.” 

Embrace the excitement by focusing on what you will be gaining, even as you say goodbye to the comfortable and familiar. Your lighter, brighter future awaits!

Get help finding senior living

Our team of trusted advisors can help you determine what level of care would be best for you or a loved one. After learning more about your unique needs, we can make a recommendation about the appropriate level of care and help set up tours if we offer the type of care you need.

Sonida Senior Living offers independent livingassisted living and memory care options. Our residents enjoy balanced and delicious meals served restaurant-style, weekly laundry and housekeeping, scheduled transportation to medical appointments, activities and social opportunities, and personal care services provided by a passionate, dedicated and caring staff.  

senior apartment living room with couch and chair near a large window
senior apartment living room with couch and chair near a large window

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