Minimalism for seniors

Minimalism for Seniors: Tips for Downsizing to a Smaller Residence

Remember the 1981 science fiction comedy, “The Incredible Shrinking Woman,” where Lily Tomlin shrinks so much she has to move into a dollhouse? After reading that, you may be thinking to yourself, that doesn’t sound so bad: At least she didn’t have to downsize her belongings.

If you’re an older adult considering a move to a senior living community and that’s your first thought, you’d definitely benefit from some downsizing tips for seniors.

So whether you’re moving to a smaller space or choosing a residence at a retirement community, here are 10 helpful downsizing tips for older adults.

  1. Get started right now. Downsizing can feel like an elephant-sized chore. So spread it out over time, and do it bit by bit. If a move to a senior living community is on your agenda someday, start downsizing today. 
  2. Start small. It can begin with going through a closet, a bathroom, even a dresser. Target the small spaces in your home first, then work your way up to larger rooms. Don’t get overwhelmed; take it a bite at a time (which, coincidentally, is also the best way to eat an elephant).
  3. Find your fit. Many senior living communities offer floor plans in a range of sizes, and with options such as dens, balconies or patios, and walk-in closets. Not sure what size is right for your lifestyle and your budget?
  4. Think of moving as a 1:1 ratio. If you’re moving from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom floor plan, most likely what you have now will fit in your new home with just a little downsizing required. But if you won’t have a garage, attic or basement in your new residence, or if you have fewer bedrooms, bathrooms and closets than you have now, those will be your target areas to downsize. 
  5. Use one room for your “staging area.” Clear out one room, like your basement, garage or even a den or an extra bedroom, then move all your extra items into that space: the bedroom furniture, the lamps, the kitchen appliances and dish sets, clothes, etc. You know you’re parting with anything that’s in that room. 
  6. Make a plan for what you’ll be letting go. Ask your kids and other family members if they want any furniture, personal belongings or other items — after they’ve taken what they want, sell the rest on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or in a garage sale. Don’t move it into a storage unit to deal with later unless you really will deal with it later. Otherwise, all you’re doing is moving your excess stuff to another address.
  7. Be firm, but be kind to yourself. For seniors especially, this downsizing tip can be a difficult one to remember. It can be hard to let go of your dining room table or the furniture from your children’s rooms; things like this often represent memories. But remind yourself your kids are grown and don’t want their old toy chest — and you no longer need a two-leaf dining room table with eight chairs.
  8. You don’t have to let go of everything. Scan important papers and mementoes you want to keep (just not physically keep) — things like old tax returns, kids’ and grandkids’ artwork, photos and letters can all be scanned and saved digitally. 
  9. Look at what you’ll be gaining, instead of what you’ll lose. Don’t fixate on the boxes of books you’re donating, or the guest bedroom furniture you’re selling. If you’re moving into a senior living community, remember everything you’re getting when you move. Communities offer common spaces like pools and fitness centers, private dining rooms for family dinners, game rooms, card rooms, art rooms, lounges, libraries, business centers, art studios — and you don’t have to furnish, vacuum, dust or clean any of these spaces. Your only job is to enjoy them.
  10. One last downsizing tip for seniors: Look forward to your future — there’s so much to look forward to. If you’re choosing to move into a Life Plan Community like Trillium Woods, you’re proactively making a smart plan for your future. You’re also setting yourself up for a purpose-filled and enjoyable retirement lifestyle among friendly, interesting older adults like you. Learn about independent living and all the advantages of LifeCare® at Trillium Woods by contacting us. You can also choose to make plans to schedule your personal tour or join us for an upcoming event. Either way, we can’t wait to meet you and show you around our community!