How to Make Downsizing Simple and Accessible for Seniors

Moving can be stressful, but there are also many positive benefits to moving prior to one’s golden years. As a retiree or a senior who continues to work, your priorities have shifted — and so has your lifestyle. Living alone in a large house or far from family can often spur the urge to both downsize and move closer to your kids and grandkids (or friends). So, here are a few ways to make downsizing simpler and more accessible for seniors.

Deciding What to Get Rid Of

According to TD Ameritrade, 42 percent of Americans plan to downsize when they reach retirement. However, after living in the same place for decades, you likely have a lot of extra belongings packed inside your home. And while you don’t need to get rid of all your worldly possessions, paring things down can make a move simpler.

Too much clutter causes increased stress, decreased focus, and even unhealthy eating habits. That said, deciding what to get rid of can be daunting, too. You likely have emotional attachments to many of your belongings and tossing everything isn’t healthy or realistic.

If possible, begin the process well in advance of your move, and you can get started by sorting items to donate. Clothing in good condition is ideal for donating, as are many other household items you no longer use. Recycling small appliances — and even larger ones — is also simple thanks to pick-up services in your neighborhood.

For less-mobile seniors or people with family far away, consider enlisting outside help. Organizations like the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) help with everything from downsizing to unpacking at your new place.

Finding the Right Home

Accessibility is a priority for seniors, but modifying your existing home can be expensive. From widening doorways to adding ramps for mobility, costs quickly add up. The good news is that when buying a new home, you can shop for accessible features in a smaller floorplan.

Investigate the exterior of the property, too. Seniors (and everyone else) greatly benefit from time spent outdoors. Potential benefits of being outside include everything from lower stress levels to reduced inflammation, Business Insider notes. For homebuyers, a safe and inviting space to sit, garden, or stroll is essential. Most 55-plus communities and assisted living facilities offer functional outside space by default.

When buying a home, you may need to get creative — and budget for a landscape designer to bring your vision to life. In Jacksonville, you should budget between $900 and $1,541 to grade or re-slope grounds for landscaping, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Smoothing Over the Moving Process

For seniors, finding a trusted moving company is often the best method of moving. If you don’t have family nearby, or friends who are physically fit enough to lift heavy furniture, finding movers is the first step. Plus, moving companies often help with obtaining boxes and packing things up — smoothing over the transition. Just keep in mind that you could pay around $25 per hour for professional movers, so budget for that expense if you can.

Because you already decluttered before the move, you will have fewer items to pack into a moving van. Consider making a master packing list and starting in one room when filling boxes. Outline priority packing, such as clearing out lesser-used rooms first. Make sure to label boxes with their destination and contents to make unpacking simpler. Consider an “open first” box with essentials like toiletries, phone chargers, and basic dishware.

The activity involved in moving to a new house as a senior can be both invigorating and stressful. As beneficial as a move may be, don’t discount your natural emotional reactions to the process of moving. It’s understandable that older adults have attachments to their homes, and sometimes, moving on to a new place can take time.

Photo via Pixabay


Caroline Dutcher