Mowing the lawn, lifting heavy garbage cans, lugging laundry baskets — these everyday tasks become more difficult with age as balance, mobility, and muscle strength decline. Instead of struggling to maintain a large house, many seniors opt to downsize. A smaller space requires less upkeep. You no longer have to focus on tedious household chores and gain more time for hobbies, social activities, and relaxation. Follow these guidelines to downsizing for seniors and you’ll find yourself enjoying life more than ever.
Find the Right Housing Option
Two popular choices for seniors looking to downsize are an independent living community or assisted living facility. In independent living, you are provided with housing as well as common areas and special services, from exercise courses to group activities. This fosters a social atmosphere, which is important to combating senior isolation and related depression.
If you require more care on a daily basis, assisted living is the better option for you. In these facilities, there is staff on hand to help with tasks like bathing and dressing. Many also provide healthcare services and assist with medication management and physical therapy.
Another option is to simply move to a smaller home. You can have a caregiver handle errands like grocery shopping and undertake tasks like meal preparation. Having a regular visitor also gives you a positive social outlet.
Consider Accessibility and Mobility
When choosing a future home that will meet your aging needs, don’t forget to factor in mobility and accessibility. Look for places without lots of staircases and with wide hallways that can accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. Keep in mind that standard houses may require renovations to maximize your comfort.
Two rooms that almost always need senior-friendly adjustments are the kitchen and bathroom because both are used so frequently. The bathroom, in particular, presents several dangers, as wet floors can be slippery for seniors who are already more prone to falls. Renovations like adding handrails and slip-proof mats are among the modifications suggested in this Accessible Bath Solutions article.
Factor in the costs of renovations when looking for your future home. It won’t do much good to find a “perfect” place that’s barely in your budget only to discover that you’ll have to add thousands of dollars worth of home improvements. For example, the cost of a bathroom remodel runs from $5,203 to $15,909 in Dallas.
Prepare to Make the Transition
Your new home will have less space, so downsize to reflect this reality. Sort your belongings into “take” or “trash” piles. The “trash” items can be sold, donated, or thrown away. Look online for resources to help you determine whether something can be repurposed or needs to be tossed — for instance by figuring out whether the object is damaged beyond repair.
Sentimental possessions can be hard to weed out. Instead of lugging boxes of photo albums to your new place, digitize your pictures. The AARP explains how to do the job yourself and also suggests services like Scanmyphoto.com that will take care of the task for you.
When it comes to heirlooms, consider gifting these to cherished friends or family. If you give them away now instead of as part of an inheritance, you get to witness the joy your present brings the recipient. You also prevent squabbles about “who gets what” from arising after you pass on. Unfortunately, such family fallouts are common.
Following these tips before you move will make the downsizing transition easier. Once you’re in your new space, you can focus on decorating without having to deal with needless clutter. You will soon have a cozy nest to call home and can focus your energies on enjoying life instead of maintaining an oversized property.
Our guest writer, Michael Longsdon, is with Elder Freedom, an organization of advocates working for the older adults of our community who's mission is to help locate resources, events, and engagement opportunities to help enrich the lives of seniors.