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Downsizing for Seniors

As many adults age into their twilight years, a lot of them are finding that everything they’ve collected over the course of their lives can sometimes be difficult to manage, or the spaces in which they’ve lived have become too much to manage on their own, now that their kids have moved out and they may no longer have a spouse.

Just over half of retirees ages 50 and older have stated they plan on moving to a smaller home. And while many seniors are resistant to the idea of moving, the realities and benefits of downsizing are often worth enduring the initial discomfort and resistance to the idea.

With most retirees living on a fixed income, things like healthcare, home repairs, and travel can cause unexpected financial hardships. Reducing monthly expenses by finding a smaller place, or by removing things from the house requiring expensive upkeep, monthly expenses can be reduced through lower mortgage payments, property taxes, home insurance, or utility bills. Many seniors find that things they once enjoyed like a pool or a well-manicured lawn, later in life become money sinks requiring considerable time and investment, without providing the same joy they used to.

Falls are one of the biggest risks to the health and safety of seniors, and things that once weren’t an issue can sometimes become extreme hazards waiting to happen. Stairs, long driveways, sunken rooms, or outdated bathrooms can become death traps. A one floor residence that’s easy to access and navigate can help you age in place for longer.

Deciding when it’s time to downsize can be a simple matter, as well. Consider where you’re living now, and take an honest assessment of it. Do you have multiple rooms you don’t use? Do you find yourself wishing you were closer to family that may have moved away? Do you sometimes feel like your home is too much, or perhaps you feel too much responsibility there? If the answer to these questions is a resounding yes, it may be time to look into downsizing.

 

When deciding what to take, it may be difficult to sort through your belongings and contemplate getting rid of anything. The things we choose to bring into our homes will necessarily have a lot of sentimental value attached to them, especially later in life, when the physical objects might be all that remains of a treasured memory or a loved one. But the easiest way to sort through our belongings is to ask four questions about each item.

  1. Do I need it or want it? A lot of times, we simply carry things through life based on the inertia of owning it initially. We have it, and simply storing it is easier than getting rid of it.
  2. Does it have sentimental value? The first baseball you ever caught, the key to your first car, a ticket stub from a first date with your spouse, all these are worth keeping. Something like a report card from eighth grade, maybe not so much.
  3. Do I use it often? If you haven’t touched it in months or years, or don’t even remember having it, it might be time to rid yourself of it.
  4. Do I have another item that performs the same function?