Downsizing and Real Estate

10/5/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

There are many reasons why seniors choose to downsize – their current house has too many stairs, it has large lawns which requires too much maintenance, they want to move to a warmer – or colder! – climate, and so on.

Downsizing for seniors can be difficult, especially for those who have lived in the same home for decades and collected a lifetime of memories; as well as a lifetime of “stuff.”

Here are a few tips on how to “downsize without tears.”

1. Plan for Downsizing Even If You Don’t Intend to Downsize

You may not intend to downsize at all! You like your home and that’s that. It’s still a good idea to have a contingency plan for downsizing for seniors should the need arise in the future. Unexpected health issues may bring a move sooner than later, for example. Such a move would be much less stressful if you have a plan already set out.

Also, don’t forget to look into hiring a downsizing home specialist to make everything much easier and less biased.

2. Moving and Decluttering

If you’ve lived in your home for decades, you’ve accumulated a lifetime of memories as well as a lifetime of “stuff.”

Take some time  – and it may take a month of a couple of hours work each day – to inventory the contents of the entire home; and, be thorough about it. Start from the attic and work down; or the basement and work up.

List all tools, all furniture, all kitchen utensils, all artwork or collectibles, the titles of all books, and so on.

As you conduct this inventory, take a photo of any item that has special memories; record your memories connected with it using your smartphone or a tape recorder. This way, you can take those memories with you wherever you go.

In addition, make a note of each item that you think will have special memories for someone else – a friend or one of your children. One daughter may have expressed a liking for a particular painting, a son may want to keep a particular piece of furniture.

3. Put Your Finances in Order

If you don’t already have a will or living trust, now is the time to make one. If you do have one or both, now is the time to make sure they’re updated.

Just as you’re putting your house in order, so you should be putting your financial affairs in order. Get everything taken care of well in advance. So, ask your kids if there’s any article of furniture, any collectible, anything, that each one would like, and state this in your will. This will help prevent ill-feelings later.

If there are squabbles over who gets what, try to resolve them ahead of time.

4. Remember Everything Has Value to Somebody

Planning a move and then packing for the move takes a lot of effort. If you try to do it all at once, chances are you’ll get fed up after a week. You may end up letting some items go or throwing them away because you just don’t want to deal with them!

By taking your time in packing, or disseminating objects you no longer want, you’ll keep your energy up and ensure that nothing gets thrown away unnecessarily while downsizing for seniors.

Sorting Through Collections

Collectors will typically know the value of their art, or their coins, or their books; but if one is downsizing because that collector has passed away, the surviving family may have no idea. Call in reputable experts to evaluate such collections.

Do you have “small” collections that you think no one will be interested in? (Old collections of bottle tops or comic books? Theatre programs? Toys from McDonalds Happy Meals you’ve kept long after your kids grew out of them?) Think again. Talk to your local historical society to see if there are items they’d want. Offer things on eBay. Do some research on the internet to see if there are any “societies” dedicated to the study of what you have to offer.

5. Search New Locations Carefully

Whether you’re just going to move into a smaller house, or are moving into an independent living community, make sure you investigate all your options carefully. Ascertain how much square footage your new home is going to have, so you know if you can bring some of your favorite furniture with you as well as any collectibles or other items.

6. Remember: Planning Is the Key When Downsizing for Seniors

It’s never too early to start planning for the future. Make sure your wishes are carried out by having your plans documented – and in an easily accessible place so your family can find these documents.

Then, you can relax and continue to enjoy your senior years.

For more information on help with downsizing, visit Door to Door Solutions!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff