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Planning for the Future | 08/4/21
The idea of downsizing in your senior years can be packed with emotions. The definition of downsizing is just what you think: deciding to live in a space with less square footage. Some people can’t wait to make the change, immediately seeing the advantages of less space to clean and furnish. For others, the emotions of downsizing a home feels like giving up everything they’ve worked to create. These feelings are real, but worth working through! Even in a smaller space, your personality and personal style can shine through beautifully, and removing the pressures of dealing with more space than you really need will likely leave you feeling more grateful than glum.
Just the thought of moving out of familiar surroundings can feel overwhelming. Not to mention the stress of contemplating what to keep, sell or donate when it comes to objects that carry cherished memories. These feelings prompt many people to “think about it later.”
Unfortunately, if you let the emotions of downsizing your home stall your decision, time might not be on your side. The option to downsize and move to a senior living community you really like may not be possible due to a long waiting list. Or worse, an illness may force you to make quick moving decisions that may not be optimal.
If leading an independent life and being your own person is important to you, there’s no better time than the present to begin the downsizing process and plan where you want to move next. The simple act of unburdening yourself of excess furniture, dust-collecting china and glassware, and items that haven’t been out of their boxes in years is very freeing.
A favorite quote of organizing expert Marie Kondo speaks to the idea that the most cherished memories are in your mind and heart, not in the china and cherrywood: “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” Think of this quote as you choose what to keep and what to let go.
Moving to a senior living community like Meadow Lakes is a wise decision with so many lifestyle advantages to enjoy now, and as you age. That said, if you can get past the emotions of downsizing your home, there’s a great life ahead!
Planning a move to an apartment with less square footage than you’re used to does take some thought and creativity. Fortunately, clever, great-looking storage solutions are all the rage these days. You’ll find roomy drawers built into bed frames, shelving and hooks that hang off doors, and hidden storage compartments in everything from ottomans to easy chairs.
If you’re downsizing to an apartment or villa in a senior living community, you’ll likely be able to choose between a few different floor plans. Rather than judge them only by overall square footage, focus on the details and actual inches.
Take accurate measurements of walls, ceiling height, closet spaces, windows, and also doorways (will the movers be able to fit that couch through?). If you have a king-sized bed, how much wall space do you need to have it comfortably fit with nightstands on either side? Or would it be best to go with a queen? Do you need a spot for a desk? Where will the TV go? These questions are important as you review each floor plan to find the one that best fits your needs.
One other tip: Experts (including seniors who’ve made the move) recommend that rather than trying to retrofit your existing pieces into a new space, consider a refresh with new “rightsized” furnishings. That way, you can shop to match your new space allowances.
Now that you’ve decided to part with those bigger pieces, old collectibles, and other items, where should all the stuff go that you no longer need? While letting go can quickly bring up emotions of downsizing your home, it can be a very freeing experience. Assuming you don’t want to toss items out, you have three choices: sell, donate, or gift.
Sell: There are numerous local organizations that would love to get your donations, and many will pick up items right from your house. If you want to try to sell some of your furniture, you can have a garage sale, of course. But Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great no-fuss online options. Like garage sales, be prepared to price your pieces on these sites at way under what you paid for them. People expect bargains! You may also be able to sell furniture through local consignment shops.
Donate: Donations of good used furniture and other household items and appliances are always welcome at places like the Salvation Army, Big Brothers & Sisters, and other charitable organizations. Most will pick up items at your home if you call to schedule it. Don’t forget to ask for a donation receipt in case you’re able to deduct your in-kind donations.
Gift: Times have changed, and younger homeowners aren’t as eager to have heirloom dining rooms sets in their homes. Try not to be disappointed if that’s the case for your kids or grandkids. They might, however, love to have antiques and smaller pieces. And some of those bookcases, extra dish sets, or that old easy chair could be just the ticket for a young person headed to college or to a first apartment. It never hurts to ask!
You can never get too much advice when it comes to choosing the right downsized floor plan and creating the perfect living space in your new place. That’s why Meadow Lakes created a special guide called “Downsizing Guide for Seniors.” It covers the how-tos of measuring and moving, as well as the emotions of downsizing your home. While you’re there, be sure to browse around to learn more about the great lifestyle so many seniors are living right now in our friendly, active senior living community.