Downsizing Tips for a Move to Independent Living

Mar 2, 2022
move to independent living

A move to independent living takes planning and diligence to make it easy and efficient without all the stress and emotions that can quickly take it off the rails. For seniors moving to independent living, downsizing can also be a time for embracing a new lifestyle while ensuring everything they need and want will make the move too. Before beginning the process, consider these downsizing tips from the pros.

#1: Arrange for help ahead of time

Of all the downsizing tips for seniors, this is one of the most essential. Even those seniors in great health and physical condition often don’t realize what it takes to sort through decades of possessions and get them where they need to be. First, enlist the help of kids and grandkids who are available and then ask friends if more help is still needed. This will also let others have a chance to choose items from the discard pile that they can use. If no help is available, there are also professionals who can help, not only with downsizing but with the entire moving process. Find one through the National Association of Specialty & Senior Move Managers.

#2: Do the biggest jobs first to move to Independent Living

As is true with many large tasks, one of the most important downsizing tips is to tackle the biggest jobs first. Start with a room-by-room list and set a period of time for cleaning out each. Allow more time for areas where things have been stored for years such as basements, closets, attics, and garages. Address each area with the mindset that everything not needed in an independent living will be in one of four categories:

  • Give to family or sell
  • Donate to charity
  • Recycle
  • Trash

Depending upon how much is stored, it may make sense to contact local trash haulers, recyclers or charities who will pick up at your home. Many seniors prefer to first check with friends and family to see if items can be used by them before donating or putting them in a garage sale. For a list of charities that will pick up donations, check out the blog, “8 Charities That Offer Free Donation Pick Up.”

#3: Measure twice, cut once

Among the many downsizing tips that can save time and minimize stress is to measure large items like furniture to decide if they will fit in the new living space. Use the floorplan from the new independent living apartment to visualize what will go where and what won’t go at all. Once you know whether an item fits, it’s easier to decide whether to give it away, sell it, recycle it, or just pitch it. It will also let you know what new furniture may be needed to replace that which is too large, so it can be purchased for delivery shortly after the move. For more about using a floor plan to downsize correctly, the blog, “10 Ways Floor Plans Can Improve Your Home Move” can help.

#4: Eliminate duplicates

Although it’s nice to have an extra coffee pot, set of glasses, or backup appliances, when space is limited, it’s time to let these go. When sorting through kitchenware, linens, small appliances, clothes, and other possessions, set duplicates aside and then decide which one of each is preferred. A good rule of thumb is to keep only that which has been used in the past year and place everything else in one of the other categories. Downsizing tips like this can quickly help declutter and clear the way for packing, with little emotion and second guessing. After all, how many can openers does one kitchen need? Get even more decluttering tips in blog, “How to Declutter Your Home, Room by Room.”

#5: Share family heirlooms to move to independent living

One of the most enjoyable downsizing tips to consider is of gifting family heirlooms to loved ones while you are still alive. Perhaps that lovely (but large) painting from Aunt Maggie would look even better in your son’s home or Grandma’s vase would be loved as much or more by your granddaughter. The best part is that when you give family heirlooms while alive, you have peace of mind knowing that it is where it was intended to go, all the while relishing the happiness and appreciation of the recipient. Learn more about gifting family heirlooms in the blog, “Giving family heirlooms as gifts.”

At Ganton’s Countryside, we know downsizing to move to independent living can be an emotional time, so we are always ready to help make the move easier. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, costs, and amenities.

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