Downsizing S.M.A.R.T.

Strategize, Manage, Accumulate, Reminisce and Thrive

At PRC, we know it takes hard work to build a senior living community. However, it’s also hard work to move into one.

“Rightsizing” is tough at any age. It is exhausting and emotional to pare down a lifetime’s worth of items. Moving a teeming family home into a few boxes that can fit in your new apartment is a daunting task.

Fortunately, Fairmount Homes understands the difficulty. On March 13th, PRC was invited to Fairmount’s free presentation, Moving Up: How to Make a S.M.A.R.T Move by Margit Novack, President of Moving Solutions.

Margit’s acronym tells you to strategize, manage, accumulate, reminisce and thrive when making the move to a smaller home.

The lecture was so helpful, we’ve decided to put together a few key points (and some helpful tips and tricks of our own) along with advice from the experts. Don’t miss out on helpful strategies for downsizing into your new home. 

Downsizing Concerns

Our things have the power to hold us back. They can literally weigh us down and prevent us from moving on to the next phase of life. If you’re hesitant to downsize because of your things, you’re not alone. Check out these statistics on seniors thoughts about downsizing their belongings.

Information from Senior Lifestyle

  • Seniors who say they have “more things than they need” 60% 60%
  • Seniors who acknowledge they have been told to downsize their belongings 28% 28%
  • Seniors who are “somewhat” or “very reluctant” to move due to their amount of belongings 75% 75%

STRATEGIZE

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Be strategic with your time.

It’s important to pace yourself. Moving isn’t something that gets done in a weekend. Downsizing takes several weeks to several months. Give yourself plenty of time, and don’t spend more than two to three hours sorting in one sitting.

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Be strategic with your questions.

Asking the wrong questions can make the moving process seem endless. “Should I keep this?” “What will I use this for?” “How do I feel about this item?” These kinds of questions require long, thought-out responses. Instead ask yes or no questions to make your decision-making process more succinct. “Is this useful?” “Do I use it regularly?” “Do I have space for it?” “Does it bring me joy?” These questions require a one word answer and usually make the right choice obvious without much thought.

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Expert Advice 

“We encourage residents to plan ahead, start early and not overdo it. Since we have a waitlist, it is good to start the downsizing (or an incoming resident told me the term “rightsizing” is a more positive way to say it) process when the application is submitted so that by the time you receive a call from us about an available apartment or cottage, you will be ready to make a move.”

Mitchell Hanna
Director of Marketing, Fairmount Homes

MANAGE

Manage your family.

Sometimes our houses become storage vessels for our adult children. Of course, getting them to the house to come pick up their things is easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to take charge, and don’t be subtle. Put a box at the front door the next time they visit, or drop off a bin on their front porch. The easiest items to part with are the ones that don’t belong to you.

Don’t manage your gifts.

Sometimes, we give gifts with strings attached. “This would look great in your dining room.” “These would be a perfect centerpiece for your kitchen table!” When you give a gift, let it go. So what if your daughter paints your dining set or your son DIYs your desk into a coffee table? The items you no longer have space for are getting a new life. They’ll be cherished, even if it’s not the way you intended.

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Expert Advice 

“Make a checklist for each area of your home. It feels good to see progress and get a sense of accomplishment as you check off completed tasks.”

Christina Gallagher
Director of Marketing, Homestead Village

ACCUMULATE

Accumulate digital copies.

You may run out of space in your apartment, but you’ll never run out of space on your computer. Save digital copies of photos, paperwork and notes to free up space.

Don’t accumulate accumulations.

Multiples are the enemy when downsizing. Coffee cans of bolts and screws, kitchen cabinets with piles of pots and pans, bathroom drawers with six bottles of face cream that all do the same thing… Getting rid of doubles and triples is a great first step to packing lightly for your new home.

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Expert Advice 

“While it can be tempting to try and bring everything into your home, we always recommend making a scale drawing of your new space and planning to bring only what fits comfortably and safely. It’s better to bring the right amount of furniture and accessories because once you move an item into your new home, it tends to stay there – whether it fits or not.”

Christina Gallagher
Director of Marketing, Homestead Village

Downsizing vs. Rightsizing

You don’t have to go tiny to find the rightsized home. Senior living facilities such as Homestead Village offer multiple housing options, some even with two car garages and basements. Choosing the right-sized home allows you the storage space you need while living a maintenance free lifestyle. (You can have a garage without having to shovel snow off the driveway!)

Photos from Homestead Village

REMINISCE

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Take time to reminisce and remember.

Everything we own has a story. Pack with your partner or friends and family. Tell the stories behind each item and remember how it served you. Honor your possessions as you sort through them.

Don’t tie up memories in your items.

While certain items may remind you of a time or person, they don’t hold your memories. You hold your memories. Items leaving your possession won’t mean their stories leave, too.

THRIVE

Make the move early.

To make the move as comfortable as possible, make the move as early as possible. Start packing when you’re still able, not when an emergency means you have to change your lifestyle. We’re the most adaptable when we’re young, so consider moving before you need to.

Thrive in your new home.

Senior living communities aren’t just practical; they’re fun. Enjoy the campus amenities with your spouse or make new friends. Adults who live in senior living facilities walk more often, socialize more often, and get out of the house more often. Now that you’ve made it to your right-sized apartment, be sure to enjoy it.

 

 

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Expert Advice 

“I encourage residents to downsize and keep the house cleared out so when you are ready to make a move to a retirement community, you won’t be overwhelmed with all you have to get rid of, since you have been clearing things out along the way. If you don’t go through your things now, you may not be in as good as shape to do it later and someone else will go through your things for you.”

Mitchell Hanna
Director of Marketing, Fairmount

Making the Change

Many seniors are making the change and moving into senior living facilities. Occupancy rates have never been higher. More than that, occupants are enjoying their stay, enough to recommend their senior living facilities to friends and family. 

Information from GlynnDevins

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Senior living occupancy rates

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Independent living residents who rate their experience as "good" or "excellent"

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Independent living residents who would recommend their community to someone else

According to Mitchell Hanna, while “downsizing” may be the commonly used term, “rightsizing” is a more positive way to describe moving from a family home to a senior living community. A family home fits a family. A senior living community, meanwhile, may be a better fit for your changing needs.

Christina Gallagher says you should look for the following in a senior living community: location, culture, services, amenities and value. She compares it to looking for a college; it’s all about finding the best fit. 

Regardless, whenever you’re ready to make the change, know that you’re not alone. Not only can you enlist your friends and family to help with the move, but many companies offer services with aging adults in mind. Margit Novack’s Moving Solutions is one such move management company that offers a range of options depending on your needs. 

Don’t let your belongings hold you back from downsizing. Your maintenance-free lifestyle is waiting!