downsizing to a community

Resources - October 29, 2019

Aging and Downsizing: How to ‘Right’ Size Your Home

Are you thinking about a move to senior living or making plans to age in place? Have you struggled to cope with your current home? Are you wanting to clear yourself of clutter? Restoring order or creating a new oasis of calm can be accomplished by proactively choosing to downsize. As experts in redefining aging, the Goodwin House team has three suggestions on how to approach downsizing a home, whether it’s yours or the home of a loved one.

Clutter Is Stressful

The more we have, the harder it is to organize our belongings, and that’s exhausting. Beyond the obvious issue of just keeping up with everything, we seldom consider the potential hazards of so much stuff. For seniors, a cluttered house is harder to walk through, and items stored on the floor can pose a substantial risk for a fall. According to the National Council on Aging, a senior is treated for a fall every 11 seconds.

As part of our age-in-place service, Goodwin House at Home offers members a yearly home assessment. The recommendations and observations are a useful starting point for making changes. And once you begin, you’re apt to see the value in continuing.

Downsizing 101: Start Small

The prospect of downsizing your entire home, from sorting to keeping, can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone; you can ask for help from family and friends. Eileen Spata, area director for TAD Relocation and an expert in helping older adults downsize, recommends starting with an easy room, such as a seldom-used guest room or even just a closet.

She advises working on a single room until it is finished. You’ll want to go through everything, sorting items by what you intend to keep, what should be donated to charity and what to give to family and friends. Consider the option of selling unwanted items at a yard sale, a consignment shop or by using an online marketplace such as eBay or Donating items to Goodwill or The Salvation Army can have the bonus of earning you a tax deduction.

Trash or Treasure

If it is a struggle to let go of items, follow the advice of bestselling author Marie Kondo. Kondo suggests asking yourself if each item “sparks joy” when you see it or use it. If it doesn’t spark joy and you’re still reluctant to part with it, ask yourself if you’re feeling guilty about letting it go. If the answer is “yes,” allow yourself to send the item on its way. As a last resort, ask yourself if you have used it within the past year. If the answer is “no,” you won’t miss it once it’s gone.

Look Forward, Not Backward

Making a significant change such as downsizing your home can be difficult. And while it might seem hard to cut back or help loved ones do it, it can also be a meaningful experience. Where once you found a large home perfect for a growing family, think about what your future holds. Do you want to spend more time with grandchildren or new hobbies, or would you rather spend time dusting unused rooms or mowing a big backyard?

Getting rid of unnecessary possessions means you’ll be prepared when you decide to sell your house. Your home will be ready for potential buyers, and whether you choose to move to a smaller home, a condo or a senior living community, you’ll be able to embrace your future.

If you’re ready to start downsizing and want more decluttering ideas, this checklist for senior downsizing offers seven helpful tips. We hope you’ll call us to find out more about Goodwin House at Home or to learn more about our communities in Alexandria and Bailey’s Crossroads, because your new home is waiting.

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