Moving to a new home is always an anxious and stressful experience, no matter how many times you’ve done it. It means leaving memories behind and starting a new life in a new location. For an older adult, it can be downright traumatic. Making such a profound change late in life, even a beneficial change, is no small matter.

Downsizing, however it occurs, is an inevitable change for seniors when they’ve reached a point where living in a home that’s too large for them is no longer possible. Maintenance and cleaning become too much to handle and downsizing becomes a necessity.

But moving to a smaller living space requires the elimination of many objects, some of which you may be strongly attached to. Deciding what goes and what stays takes some time and shouldn’t be done lightly. It’s a trying experience, and it’s important to be physically and emotionally prepared.  

Don’t waste time

As soon as you know you’ll be moving, begin sorting your belongings, preferably with a close friend or family member who can provide emotional and physical support. Waiting too long can put you in a difficult situation where you’re more likely to make a hasty decision because time is short. At the very least, you’ll want two full weeks in which to go through everything. Senior move experts advise that each item under consideration should be handled and considered before you decide whether to keep or get rid of it. Go room by room rather than attacking the whole house at once, and begin with a small room so you don’t feel overwhelmed right from the start.

Keep your new space in mind 

Downsizing means less square footage and probably less storage space than you’re used to. It also means there are fewer rooms to fill now, which means getting rid of a substantial number of belongings. You no longer need three or four guest bedrooms, so you can count on getting rid of items from those rooms right off the top. As you create a “get-rid-of” pile, consider how you’ll dispose of it all. Simply laying it all out for the trash collectors to haul away isn’t an environmentally responsible act.

Decide which objects can be given to other family members, what could be sold through consignment, and what can be donated to charitable organizations. If you’re getting rid of large furniture, mattresses or clothing, remember that the material of which they’re made can be recovered at special recycling centers.

The right home for you

In addition to downsizing, this is an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to, like live in a wooded area, near a lake or the ocean, or closer to loved ones. Of course, your first considerations should be your needs and whether it makes sense to purchase a new house, an apartment, or move into an assisted living facility.

If you’re relocating to a new, smaller house, it should be one that offers ease of movement and accessibility if you have restricted mobility and, above all, it should be a safe living environment. You also want to get the best price possible. Take a look at the home values and prices in the area where you’re moving to make sure you’re getting the right house at the right price (average home prices in Myrtle Beach were purchased at an average of $182,000 over the past 30 days).

Moving

Finding the right moving company, one you can be sure will safeguard your belongings, requires some online research. If necessary, seek the help of a relative who can assist you in your search and in finding a company that has experience working with seniors. Bear in mind that senior move managers are widely available experts who understand the special needs of older adults and the particular challenges they face. A senior move manager can tackle a lot of the planning legwork so you can focus on more important tasks.

It’s natural to want to get a difficult situation like downsizing and moving over with as soon as possible. And while you should begin downsizing as soon as you know you’re moving, you need the time to do it properly so you don’t make hasty decisions you’ll regret later. Approach it as a process requiring thought and energy and all will be well.