Although challenging, the move to a smaller living space or senior community can be very appealing to those who no longer want the responsibilities that come along with homeownership. The common questions that often fills the mind of seniors such as "what do I do with all of my things?", "how will I move everything?", "where will I go?" It can be an emotionally and physically demanding time to leave a space that holds memories from many years before.
Early Planning is Key – Start researching your options and planning your move early. It doesn’t mean that you have to make a move in the near future, but when and if the time comes you will not be faced with the stress of planning under pressure and tight timelines.
Find a senior move manager – There are many companies that specialize in working with seniors and families making this transition. They are trained specifically to handle the physical and emotional needs of seniors through the move process. For a list of senior move managers near you, visit www.nasmm.org/.
Work with a Senior Real Estate Specialist – Working with a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) can be very beneficial when selling or buying a new home. SRES designees are certified senior specialists who work primarily with 50+ individuals who want to sell their home. To find an SRES close to you, www.seniorsrealestate.com.
Research Local Senior Communities – Making the move to a senior community is a big decision and one that is often hard to make without visiting and touring the community yourself. Pick a few communities in the area of your choice and go visit. Take a tour, ask to come for dinner and find an activity to join. It's also a good idea to ask your local senior community to recommend a 'home health aide' or 'companion' service for support with chores around the house during your move.
Hold on to memories but let go of clutter – One of the hardest parts of moving to a smaller place can be letting go of material possessions that have sentimental value to you or your loved ones. It’s okay to take baby steps here and start this process early. Designate time each week to de-clutter a chosen area of your home. It may be easier to start with areas that have less sentential value such as the bathroom instead of areas such as the bedroom or living room. Create labels to categorize items into piles such as 'must keep', 'donate', and 'sell'. Ask yourself with each item if you are holding on to an item you need for the future or if you are holding on to a memory from the past.