A Guide to Downsizing for Seniors

Downsizing can be an appealing opportunity, especially if you're a senior who no longer wishes to tend a large garden or clean a large house.

For many seniors, however, downsizing can create conflicting emotions and thoughts. Knowing how to deal with these feelings can help you through the process.

Couple considers their savings and costs

Why it's difficult to downsize

There are many reasons why downsizing could be an emotional experience for you. It might coincide with another difficult transition in your life, such as a spouse's death, children moving out or even a divorce.

Downsizing can be another reminder of why the transition is happening, which makes the changes even more difficult.

In most cases, downsizing represents the end of a chapter in your life. You don't want to let go of the memories that are associated with your belongings and your home. Parting with these personal, sentimental items can be symbolic, and you may want to hold onto those items to keep the memories alive.

If you're experiencing sadness, stress and anxiety from the thought of downsizing, you're not alone. These feelings are normal, but you can't let them keep you from improving your quality of life.

These tips can help you deal with these negative emotions that may come with downsizing.

Dealing with sadness and loss

If you're sad about letting go of your belongings or home, you can look at it as a mourning process.

It could take a few months for you to feel happier, but you shouldn't rush it. You aren't weak, and you don't have a mental illness just because you're sad about making changes.

It's important to stay connected and talk about your emotions with family members and friends. If your downsizing involves moving into a new home, engage in your new community. You can join clubs, volunteer and enjoy activities that interest you.

Loneliness and isolation are associated with a decline in longevity and cognitive function. They're also linked with an increased risk of chronic health issues, including heart disease.

If these types of negative emotions interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor or a therapist.

A group of adults volunteering outside on a sunny day

Coping with stress

There there are many ways that you can cope with the stress that may come with downsizing.

  • Don't hesitate to ask family and friends for help. Having assistance from people who know what you do and don't need is the optimal way to go.

  • Hire a company or consultant who specializes in helping people downsize. They take the time to learn about your needs so that they can help you declutter effectively.

  • Seek the help of nonprofit groups like the Salvation Army who offer haul-away services for furniture and other items that you want to dispose of or donate.

Dealing with anxiety

If you're anxious about getting rid of your possessions, focus on keeping the items that bring you happiness and are practical to keep.

It may ease your anxiety to pass on some of your belongings to your kids and grandkids. You shouldn't just give them the items, however. Instead, let them decide whether or not they want to keep them. If they don't, then you should probably let go of those items.

It might be comforting to donate the belongings to charity. Knowing that the items will bring someone else joy can make you feel better about the decision.

Focus on the benefits of downsizing

While the process of downsizing can be difficult and exhausting, you may find that you feel lighter after you do it. You may not be able to believe that it took so long to do it.

It may also help you to think about the benefits of downsizing:

  • Moving to a smaller home could save you money on electricity, property taxes and insurance.
  • You won't have to spend as much time taking care of your property.

In the end, it's better to embrace the change and view it as a new beginning in your life.

 

 

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not healthcare advice. Speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about your specific healthcare needs.