Downsizing in Your Golden Years: A Guide For Seniors
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As a senior, it’s likely there will come a time when you need to downsize. You may want to get rid of an assortment of items and find yourself a smaller, more comfortable living space where you can enjoy your golden years.
Where to Begin
Finding the right home can be a daunting task, but with a little time and effort, you can find the perfect living situation for your needs. U.S. News says you should consider the type of lifestyle you intend to lead. If you’re still working, you may want to have an office space or a work area.
If you’re retired but intend to have guests such as children or grandchildren, consider getting a home with a little extra space. Condos are a popular option for seniors who frequently travel, as opposed to a single family home, which requires more upkeep and maintenance. When looking for a home, also consider details such as appliance height, home location, ease of access, and affordability.
Organizing Your Belongings
AARP recommends that seniors go through a checklist before downsizing your belongings. Checklist items include: creating a division of assets, establishing a sorting system, focusing on the lesser-used rooms first, and taking notes. Creating a division of assets, which helps your loved ones know who receives which items, should be done well in advance. This can prevent conflict during the move and eliminate unneeded stress. Establishing a sorting system with items in separate areas denoting what will be kept, what will be donated, and what will be tossed out can expedite the downsizing process. Starting with lesser-used rooms first will keep clutter out of the more occupied spaces, and keeping notes will ensure that you know where everything is.
Consider the floor plan of your new home and which pieces of furniture and large items you intend to keep. According to The Spruce, knowing what items will fit and what won’t can help make the decision easier. It’s also important to ask questions about each particular item you wish to keep. For example, ask questions like: How often do you use this item? Does it hold sentimental value? Would it be better in the hands of a loved one? How will this item serve your new home?
It’s also crucial to be patient with yourself. Downsizing can be a difficult and emotional process. Give yourself time to work through any emotions. If you need to, take a break, go for a walk, or talk to someone. Give yourself time to grieve the life you are leaving behind, if need be.
When to Call a Professional
A 2016 New York Times article outlines the benefits of hiring a professional moving manager for seniors. Moving managers specialize in helping seniors discern what to store with relatives, what to sell at auctions or liquidate, and what to throw away. They also take the brunt of heavy lifting, and allow the senior to separate themselves from the moving process — something that can be a daunting and potentially traumatic experience. The option of hiring specialty moving managers can be costly, however, with rates starting as low as $40 an hour and running as high as $100 an hour.
If you opt to do some of the moving yourself, remember basic safe lifting guidelines. According to OSHA, remember to keep a correct neutral posture where the body is aligned and balanced, with your head kept upright and the spine bent no more than 20 degrees while lifting with your legs. Your elbows should be kept at your sides and your palms should be facing inward. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or utilize lifting equipment that will reduce the risk of injury.
Downsizing to a smaller home doesn’t have to be a difficult process. While it’s certainly time consuming, it can be the best option to help you enjoy your senior years in comfort and ease. With a little organization, finding the right place and the right help, hopefully you will be well on your way to a comfortable new living situation with everything you need!