Tips for Downsizing to Senior Living

You found the perfect senior living community and are excited about starting your “second act” and enjoying a new, carefree lifestyle. But first, there’s the task of downsizing from your current home to your new senior living one. While it may seem overwhelming at first, following these expert tips for downsizing to senior living can help make it much easier.

5 tips for downsizing to senior living

Tip #1: Declutter first

The first step in the process of downsizing to senior living is decluttering. Cleaning up piles of old newspapers and magazines, sorting out duplicates in the kitchen and bath, removing boxes of old clothes, and cleaning out unused items in drawers and cupboards are all great first steps for downsizing to senior living. For a handy decluttering checklist check out the article, “How to Declutter Your Home Without Getting Overwhelmed.”

Tip #2: Make a “stay-or-go” list

Although most senior living homes are smaller than family homes, there will often be several items you already know will or won’t be making the move. when downsizing for senior living, go room by room and make a list of all the furniture and appliances in each and note whether they will stay or go with you. To ensure larger pieces like sofas and dining room tables will fit, measure them and compare them to the floor plan of your new senior living home or try a program like those described in article, “The Best Free Room Layout Planners Online.” Keep in mind that most senior living apartments come with appliances so moving yours may not be necessary.

Tip #3: Organize your available help

Downsizing to senior living can be a physically demanding job so rather than risk getting hurt ask your friends and family to pitch in. Kids and grandkids can do all the heavy lifting and can also remove all those boxes and bins they left behind when they moved out. Ask each person when they can help and for how long and create a calendar so you have help when you need it.
For those who don’t have access to family helpers, there are professionals who specialize in downsizing for senior living. As noted in the article, “Senior Downsizing Services: Retirement Guide”  these companies offer a variety of services at costs generally ranging between $3,000 and $5,000 depending on time spent and services rendered.

Download our “Senior Living Options” guide.

Tip #4: Use the “four piles” system

As you sort through rooms, basements, garages and attics, stick to the “four piles” system for all those possessions that aren’t going with you: give, donate, sell, and dump. Stock up on trash bags and remove them from the area as soon as they are full. Let helpers know what items are up for grabs (check your stay-or-go list) and ask them to remove them as soon as possible.
To donate, contact local charities like those detailed in the article, “8 Charities That Offer Free Donation Pick Up” and be sure to get receipts for tax deductions. Downsizing to senior living is also a great time to hold a garage sale to make a little extra cash to help defray moving costs, especially if you have lots of smaller items to fill tables. Everything from board games to crafting supplies to extra dishes to gently used clothes are all great sellers as are tools, camping gear, and toys. For more about holding a successful garage sale the article, “What to Sell at a Garage Sale: 25+ Easy Items That Sell!” is a great guide.

Tip #5: Address valuable items

When downsizing to senior living, pay special attention to items with monetary or sentimental value so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. For example, small items like jewelry can be stored in a safe deposit box, while larger items like coin collections, rare books, and artwork may require storage with a trusted friend or relative.
Another option is to give them to a loved one rather than leaving them in your will. This is especially true of family heirlooms that have been passed down over the years and that you want to remain in the family. According to the article, “5 Tips for Dividing Up Your Family Heirlooms,” start by adhering to the “first generation first” rule and leave heirlooms to the next generation (i.e., children, nieces or nephews) so they can then pass them on to their kids and so on. In some cases, it may also work to simply draw straws or randomly choose names from a hat for each item. Either way, you get to enjoy seeing your loved ones appreciate the gift as much as you did.

Find out more about downsizing to senior living in our guide, download our “Senior Living Options” guide, then contact us to schedule a tour.

Senior Living Options Guide