A life well lived means that you inevitably amass a cache of material possessions, all attached to a lifetime of memories. This makes downsizing a stressful and daunting undertaking that can be both physically and emotionally challenging to most seniors, as well as loved ones and caregivers. With the COVID-19 lockdown being enforced on many of us, you may not currently be able to take all the necessary steps needed to downsize right now, but here’s how to get started and make the process a lot less overwhelming.

Make a Plan

Downsizing might seem insurmountable, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. By developing a plan, you’re able to break down the process into small, manageable piece, and it also helps keeps you organized.

Optimize your plan by making a checklist to keep you on track. Consider all senior housing options based on your needs (moving in with someone, independent living, assisted living, etc.) as these will give you an idea of what you can keep and how much you need to dispose of. Ask for help from friends and loved ones in developing your plan.  Once it’s complete, review the plan with them and ask them to do specific tasks to ensure that everyone helping you with the transition is on the same page. Make sure to include as much detail as you can in your plan. and when you’re ready, take a deep breath, and go ahead with implementation.

Let Go

Implementing your plan boils down to one thing: letting go. It starts with taking stock of your possessions and decluttering. It is most difficult, but important, to reduce your emotional attachment to some of your possessions.  Clutter that holds little to no sentiment can be disposed of, as well as items that are worn or damaged. 

You can give away certain items such as working appliances, good china and furniture, and even clothing in good condition as legacy gifts and donations. You’ll be surprised at how comforting it is to know that some of your beloved possessions are going to a loved one or a good home where they will be just as valued and useful.

If you have memorabilia or collections that are near and dear to your heart, know that you likely won’t be able to take every piece with you to your next living arrangement. Instead, pare it down to a subset of the finer pieces and consider putting the rest in storage or selling them.

Reap the Rewards

Yes, there are rewards to be had when decluttering and selling your possessions. You may have valuables and specialty items that could fetch a pretty penny. Even things that depreciate over time, such as furniture, appliances, and clothing, may have a market value. If you believe you have something of value, ask a friend or loved one to have it appraised, so you don’t find yourself questioning your decision to dispose of it in the future.  The important thing is to set realistic expectations and set fair pricing. You can then take advantage of the many platforms available — both online and off — to sell them.

Of course, not to be overlooked is your home. Selling your house could single-handedly cover your future living costs, so it’s important to focus on the many aspects of selling your property, including pricing, marketing, and timing. Before putting your home up for sale, research local real estate trends.

Move Forward

Once your worldly possessions are taken care of and your beloved home is sold for a new family to make memories in, you’ll be able to move onward and upward. There are numerous living options available for this next part of your life, including independent living or assisted living, where you can get assistance in daily activities such as bathing, while still enjoying your privacy in a home-like setting minus the demands of maintaining a home. Just keep in mind that the price varies with the care and amenities provided, as well as location.

If you’d prefer to age in place, you can find a new home that suits your needs. Be sure to include any modifications you potentially need to make in your home-buying budget. When shopping for mortgages, look into the latest VA rates if you’re a U.S. veteran. A VA loan offers qualifying service members the opportunity to purchase a new home with low interest rates and without having to pay for mortgage insurance or a down payment.

Indeed, downsizing may seem like the end of an era, but it also signifies a new beginning. By going about it methodically and being well-informed of your many options, it becomes less a time of uncertainty and more a chapter rife with opportunity.

Additional Resources

16 Tips for Reducing Fall Risk for Seniors

6 Affordable Ways to Create a Senior-Friendly Kitchen

7 Things to Look For When Hiring a Lawn Care Company

Knowing When It May Be Time for Assisted Living

Key Questions for Buying or Selling a Home During the Pandemic

Open House Guidance During COVID-19

10 Tips to Improve Your Real Estate Virtual Tour

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