Downsizing in Retirement: Four Secrets to Success

Move-in Coordinator Jill Mannino spent more than a decade helping 500-plus older adults downsize and move to Springhill Senior Living in Erie, Pa., including her father and mother-in-law.

And, she’s the first to admit that downsizing decades’ worth of belongings is a daunting task. But her experiences have shown her that at the end of the process, people feel liberated to be in a new place with more time to focus on the things they enjoy and take advantage of opportunities their new community brings.

Jill recently retired, but left her four top tips for downsizing behind. Bringing your family in before you start the process is key, she notes. People often think their children or grandchildren will want more than they actually do. Invite them for lunch and have them tag specific items, then give them a deadline to take them.

Ask the experts

Even if you know you’re five years out from a move, it’s never too soon to start decluttering.

Consider hiring a professional senior relocation specialist early in the process to help you sort and create a plan. Paying for services will help you stay focused, and it is amazing what a professional can accomplish in a 4-hour session. Typically, Jill advises clients to sort into four categories: bring, donate, trash, family.

Downsizers also provide invaluable expertise in the best ways to sell and the market value of belongings, which is often far less than people expect. This can be a big help when it comes to parting with items.

Stick to a deadline

Most senior living communities require you to move within 60 days of a signed contract. But whether it’s 60 days, six months, or longer, once you’ve scheduled that move date officially or in your mind, you’ll be more focused on doing what needs to be done.

Once you’re ready, start with smaller spaces like bathrooms and laundry rooms where you have less emotional attachment to items. If possible, invite the kids and grandkids to help. This can  become a family bonding event as you share stories about certain mementos and belongings.

Keep memories, not clutter

Move the things that are most familiar to you: a favorite chair, your comfortable couch, a desk where you write letters to loved ones. Instead of moving your grandmother’s entire collection of dolls or china, pick a few items and take photos of the rest. Have them made into a photo book, so you can enjoy them without the clutter.

Focus on what you’re gaining

This is an exciting new chapter in your life. You’ll have fewer surfaces to dust, rooms to vacuum or towels to wash. No more mowing the lawn or shoveling snow or cleaning gutters. And those beloved items that you donated or passed on to friends and family are now bringing joy to someone else.

“Once people move, the transformation is mind-blowing,” says Jill. “Most residents blossom in their new environment and often tell me it’s the best decision they ever made.”

Interested in learning more about becoming a resident at one of the Asbury Communities? Contact us today for more information about life at Springhill or any of our other senior living communities, or if you would like to take a tour.



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