The Simple Guide to Downsizing

The Simple Guide to Downsizing

September 7, 2021

Finding the right senior living option for your loved one can be an exciting and gratifying experience, but the transition is not without its challenges – specifically downsizing. Just as we acquire memories and experiences as we age, we also amass physical items that reflect our well-lived journeys. This presents a challenge for those who plan to move to a community that, while fostering high quality of life and a safe environment, may not have the same amount of space available for the totality of their belongings. This is what makes downsizing so difficult; how does one prioritize both meaningful and functional items and decide which to keep? Creating an action plan for downsizing can go a long way in simplifying the transition and can even help a resistant person acquiesce more easily knowing that there is a process in place for addressing their belongings. Below are a few simple tips to help make the transition easier.

Equip Yourself with Knowledge

Learning more about a potential community prior to move-in can help you plan and decide how many belongings your loved one can potentially keep. A Place for Mom has compiled a list of items that you can ask communities about as you research options, including:

  • Floor Plans & Measurements: Floor plans with listed measurements are often included on a senior living community’s website, but if not, be sure to ask for them. This can help you and the potential resident visualize how much you can reasonably fit in the apartment, as well as how much closet space will be available.
  • Similarity of Apartments: Once you have the floor plan and measurements, be sure to ask if these specifications are uniform for all apartments or if things like closet size will vary slightly from unit-to-unit.
  • Size of Doors & Elevators: If the resident plans on bringing their own furniture, be sure to determine whether or not the pieces in question will be able to fit into their apartment. This can help you more easily part with furniture items that may not be viable fits.
  • Included Items: Ask which items are included in the apartment you are looking at, namely furniture and appliances. For instance, if a microwave is included, there is no reason to keep their existing one.

Be Patient and Understanding

Some people tend to hang onto their belongings more than others, especially those of an older generation who may have lived through leaner times. Be sure to think before you speak and avoid being judgmental about which belongings they may have accumulated over the years. This can be counterproductive, creating a defensive response or making them more resistant to letting go of certain belongings.

Avoid Too Much Pressure

While downsizing is certainly an important priority, there are ways to minimize the pressure and urgency that your loved one may be feeling – both of which can make the process more difficult or even halt it entirely. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by making their decisions less stark; in addition to a “keep” and “donate/throw out” pile, consider adding an “undecided” pile as well. This removes some of the pressure by making each decision less black and white while allowing everyone to keep up the pace of the sorting.

Downsizing is never easy, but it is a process that can be simplified. A life’s worth of memories deserves thought and care, and the patient support of family can go a long way in making these important decisions.


If you have questions about downsizing or would like to learn more about the assisted living apartments and floor plans at CRISTA Senior Living, contact us today.