Moving & Downsizing

Downsizing for Your Move Into a Senior Living Community

November 30th, 2022

A resident shows off her brilliant coloring work.

How to Lighten the Load for Your Next Chapter of Life

Congratulations! You’ve just made a monumental decision to simplify your life. You’ve decided it’s time to move into a senior living community. Not only that, but you have researched and toured senior apartments, and chosen which one is best for you.

Take a deep breath and have a cup of tea. You’ve earned it. You are entering a new phase of freedom to do what you love most without the constraints of keeping up a large house and yard. You’ve got some more work to do before you get there, but you can do this!

Moving to a senior living community is an opportunity to free yourself from clutter, give others some of the things you have valued, and repurpose what you keep in new surroundings. The more you give away as you downsize, the lighter you will feel. This is an ideal time to be generous and free yourself for a lighter journey ahead.

First Things First

Downsizing and moving is a lot of work, so ask someone to help. A trusted friend or adult child will keep you motivated and hopefully provide a more objective opinion on what to bring with you and what to leave behind.

Take a good look at your new senior apartment and community. How large is your apartment? Get the exact dimensions so you know what will fit where. When Paul and Susan moved into Cristwood Park in Shoreline, they were happy to discover that she could bring her upright piano. They also knew which of their two sofas would fit best and how many chairs to bring with their dining table. Because they knew the exact dimensions, they were able to easily set up their new home and make sure there was plenty of space to move around and enjoy their belongings.

Questions to answer before moving include: Is there storage space in your senior living community? Does your senior apartment include a built-in microwave? Built-in bookcases? A pantry? Will you have a laundry service? The answers to these will help you determine what and how much to bring with you.

Choose Big Items Carefully

Once you know the size and layout of your new home, choose the furniture you want to bring. Ask yourself which furniture you use the most. Do you have beautiful wingback chairs that you never sit in? Give them to someone who will use them. Do you love to curl up and read a good book on your couch? Bring it! Are your dining room chairs wobbly and scratched? Leave them behind. Only bring the furniture that fits your new place and you.

Household Necessities

Most of us have way more towels and sheets and pots and pans than we need. Now is your chance to go through closets and drawers and reduce these to what you personally use.

Chances are you won’t have overnight guests in your new senior apartment, so you don’t need extra bedding. Choose the most comfortable sheets and blankets that fit your bed and bring two sets. You may invite one or two friends over for a meal at a time, but not a crowd, so bring a few place settings of dishes rather than the entire set.

If your house is still the spot where the family gathers for holidays, it’s time to pass the torch, along with the giant roasting pan, large pots and pans, and table décor. Now is your time to be the guest and enjoy!

All the Little Things

You may feel sad about letting go of things you’ve lived with for many years. They represent people and places you want to remember. But they are not those people and places. And one or two of the items you hold dear may be enough to keep and remember, making it easier to let go of the rest.

Do you need 15 teacups and saucers from your mother’s collection, or can you remember her just as well with one or two of your favorites? Keep those and give the rest to friends. You can enjoy watching them sip tea from those beautiful China cups instead of seeing them collect dust on a shelf.

Now, look at the rest of the items in your home. With every collection, can you keep one or two things and let someone enjoy the rest? Perhaps there are some collections you can give away completely. Treasured family collections make great Christmas and birthday presents!

Bring the Things that Give You Joy

Look around your home and tune in to your emotional responses. We all have certain colors and shapes that make us feel happy. Those are the things you want to keep. Don’t worry about where they came from or how long you’ve had them—if you truly feel joy when using them, hold on to them. If you don’t, give them to someone who will.

Give to Family First

Set aside the things you are taking with you to your senior apartment or mark them in some way. Then offer the rest to your children and grandchildren. Ask them to come to your house and walk through it if you like. Many people do this in anticipation of putting items in their will, but why wait? When you give things to your family now, you can see your family enjoying them for years to come.

Has your daughter always loved the wooden bookcase crafted by her great-grandfather? If you don’t need it any longer, now is a good time to give it to her. She will enjoy it, and you will see it every time you visit her. Do your grandchildren need furniture for their new house? Bingo! You’ve got it to give. Is a grandson looking at rings to propose to his girlfriend? Maybe it’s time to offer your mother’s wedding ring so he can give her something really special that is perhaps more than he could afford on his own.

Rather than feeling obligated to give things to family members just because they ask, be choosy and give to those you know will care for them well so you can feel good about these gifts for years to come.

Let Go of the Rest

After you have given your treasures to family and friends, consider selling other items in a garage sale or putting them on Facebook Marketplace. Make your price fair and add OBO (or best offer) and you may be surprised at the money you make. Use that cash to do something fun for yourself as a reward.

After you’ve sold items, donate the rest. The most convenient way to do this is to post the items on a Facebook site that offers them to people in your area for free. They will be happy to come and pick them up at your home. You can also donate them to a local shelter or a thrift store that gives their profits to a worthy cause.

Pat Yourself on the Back

You have just given a huge gift to your children and grandchildren. Now they don’t have the stress of dispersing your possessions, and they also have some treasured items of yours to enjoy while they still have you!

Once you have gotten your possessions down to what you will take to your new home, take a deep breath and have another cup of tea. You have definitely earned it many times over. You have just avoided one of the biggest mistakes people make when moving to a smaller living space—taking too much with them!

With a lighter load, you can move into the next chapter of your life with a spring in your step, ready for adventure and new beginnings.

For more information on helping your loved one downsize, read our blog HERE.

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What People Are Saying …

I would like to commend Cristwood Park staff on their efforts to protect themselves and their residents from COVID. It’s been a concern of ours since last March and we have been relieved to see so few cases in the Cristwood Park community. I would like to thank the staff and leadership for their diligence in maintaining good protocols throughout this pandemic.

CWP Family Member

CRISTA has been a warm, friendly atmosphere to be a part of these past two years. It encourages friendships that encourage a pleasant living environment.

Marty Victor, CWP

Exceptional personalized holistic care. Helps keep Mom’s mind active and she flourishes with the nurturing care. Especially of value currently given the COVID restrictions. We are genuinely pleased with our mom's care.

Resident's Daughter, Memory Care

Thinking back on all the great care you and your team have given her at CRISTA, we thank you for all that. I am sure it made a difference in the quality of her life.

I appreciate the personal relationship I have with the staff and the good communication they give me.

I am so stunned by all the amazing people who live at CRISTA. The depth of their stories, their experiences are so powerful. They are fascinating and I learn something new every day! Such a wealth of intellect, experiences, and fun loving people. I love living here.

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