We all accumulate stuff. Some of it we can’t even remember buying. But some of it tells the story of who we are. From art drawn by grandchildren to family heirlooms, our stuff is more than just the result of all the money we’ve spent. Transitioning to senior living offers a chance to evaluate how you view your possessions, consider what really matters, and downsize.
The Benefits of Downsizing and Senior Living
Senior living offers a chance to focus on your own enjoyment and fulfillment after you retire. You won’t have to worry about endlessly cleaning your home, tending the garden, or saving to repair a leaky roof. Rather than trying to find things to do, you’ll have ready access to plenty of activities and lots of like-minded peers—without having to drive across town. This can mean a more active, adventurous, and carefree retirement.
Yet, many seniors are reluctant to leave their homes. That’s easy to understand. Our homes are the setting of many happy memories. They’re also where we keep the things that matter most: a treasured houseplant collection, a family heirloom, wedding photos.
Downsizing for retirement doesn’t have to mean giving up the things that remind you of your history and connect you to your roots. In fact, getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t matter—that useless stack of magazines, the clothes you haven’t worn in 20 years, all the crossword puzzle books you feel guilty for not completing—can free physical and mental space to focus on what really matters. Downsizing can be freeing. It marks a powerful step toward a new and fun chapter of life.
If you’re ready to transition to a less cluttered existence, some simple strategies can help you make the switch. Begin by thinking about your relationship to your possessions. How do you feel about downsizing? If you feel reluctant or sad, consider why that might be. Perhaps you grew up in poverty, so you feel the need to be prepared for everything. Maybe you feel guilty about not using all of your possessions. Whatever you’re feeling, allow yourself to vocalize those feelings to someone you trust.
Then, get to work clearing the clutter. You may find that doing so helps clear up some negative emotions. Try these strategies:
- Work slowly. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a pile of stuff in your house. Instead, begin the process well before your move. Set reasonable goals, like clearing a bookshelf each day.
- Find ways to give your possessions new life and meaning. Can you donate clothes to a battered women's shelter? Give your old books to a family member who will love them?
- Ask loved ones if they want some of your castoffs. If you no longer use something that has sentimental value, why not pass it on to a family member?
- Think critically about your possessions. Ask yourself if each possession is something you use, something that makes you happy, or something that connects you to powerful emotions. If the answer is no, it’s time to part with it.
- Invest in organization. A professional organizer can help you find ways to organize your possessions in a way that makes them easier to use and enjoy, while taking up less space. This is a great gift to give yourself as you transition to your new home.
- Look into storage. If you have beloved possessions that take up too much space but you can’t bear to part with, consider investing in a small storage space.
How to Embrace Your New Home
Even the best changes can be tough. Consider the fog of new parenthood, the stress that sometimes comes with being a newlywed, or the homesickness of a new college student. It takes time to adjust to change, so be patient with yourself. Don’t be surprised if you have some mixed emotions about downsizing.
Some strategies that can help you adjust include:
- Setting up your new home exactly as you want it. You no longer have to do what children or friends want. This is your place.
- Find ways to incorporate the familiar and sentimental. Consider displaying family photos or bringing your favorite area rug.
- Schedule more time with loved ones during the immediate transition.
- Push yourself to stay active. It’s normal to feel a little anxious about meeting new people in a new place. Do it anyway. You’ll soon have many friends, a busy social calendar, and an active new life.
A more minimalist existence can offer you more time and more space. The next chapter of your life can be your best yet. Ready to learn more about senior living options? Contact us today to explore options for the best possible retirement.