Downsizing: An Emotional but Liberating Experience for Seniors

Most of us would rather get an anxiety-inducing task over with as quickly as possible. That said, some stressful projects need to be done methodically. For seniors, downsizing to a smaller home means facing one of those dreaded tasks: the decluttering process. In most cases, this process requires some serious winnowing of old objects, but that can be difficult for an elderly person whose possessions might be their only tangible link with the past.

Decluttering should be done as soon as possible, going room by room, until it’s complete. It’s an emotional experience, for sure, but the end result will be a freer, less burdened life in a smaller space that’s easier to keep clean and maintain.


Your new home should be smaller, but it should also suit your lifestyle. Make sure it has enough space if you anticipate having family come to visit or if you need room to enjoy a hobby. Above all, keep a careful eye on home prices in the area you’re looking. There’s no point in downsizing if it means your rent or mortgage payment will go up, so do plenty of research online as you look for the ideal home. If you or a loved one has mobility restrictions and accessibility needs, a remodel may be necessary. Most are needed in the bathroom and kitchen, which can be pricey, so consider that as you cost-compare properties. A kitchen renovation in Dallas, Texas, averages around $13,000 and takes approximately two weeks to complete.

Do plenty of research when finding a moving company. Your best bet is to find one that caters to senior citizens and their particular needs. The movers should be fully insured and prepared to go to extra lengths to protect your valuables. Consider hiring a senior move specialist who can act as adviser and advocate for you during the decluttering, packing, and moving process.

Don’t Wait

It’s understandable to be nervous and reluctant about decluttering, but the sooner you tackle it, the easier the whole downsizing experience will be. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to delay and try to do it all in a day or two right before the moving van pulls up. Instead, begin the process as soon as you know you’ll be moving. Start in a low-impact room, such as the laundry room, handle each item and think about whether it’s something you’ve used within the past six months. If not, it goes in the “leave behind” pile.

Consider Your New Space

If you’re downsizing, it likely means you’re moving into a home with less (maybe significantly less) square footage and less storage space. So, take measurements, as well as photos, so you can determine whether furniture pieces are necessary and whether there’s room for them. There’s no sense in moving a large pull-out couch if you just don’t have the wall space for it. In general, where furniture is concerned, go with a piece that makes a strong design statement and coordinates well with other design elements instead of trying to crowd multiple pieces into a room that’s not designed to hold all of them.

A New Lifestyle

Seniors often see downsizing as an opportunity to begin a whole new lifestyle. This could mean getting out more with friends, getting more exercise, or traveling more often. In any event, if your life won’t center around your home as much as it used to, you can surely make do with less furniture and fewer tables and chairs than before. Be discriminating and objective as you assess the big stuff; there’s no reason to move everything in your third bedroom into a new home that only has two bedrooms. That’s an opportunity to get rid of a bunch of stuff you no longer need.

No one enjoys going through the decluttering process. For an older adult, it can be an emotionally draining experience, but it’s easier if you stick with your plan and take it one step at a time. Stay with it and keep going until you’ve gone through every room. Think of it as a big step toward an exciting and freer lifestyle.

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