Guest Post: Downsizing A Senior’s Home To A Smaller Unit

Moving in general can be a stressful, complicated life event. Whether moving down the street or across the country, a lot of planning, preparation, and arrangements must be made. Other factors come into play that can complicate things even further, such as the size of the home one is relocating to, age, and more. Particularly, moving or downsizing a senior loved one from their larger home to a smaller unit requires a lot of patience, strategy, and of course organization. As daunting as downsizing can seem, it can actually help create simpler, safer, and less stressful environments for seniors.

A Kansas University study found that 62 percent of seniors aged 70 to 79 own more items than they actually need. Those seniors also report having a hard time giving up those items. This is understandable as some of these items probably have significant sentimental ties or they have simply owned them for a long time creating familiarity and comfort for them. It is no easy feat to toss something you’ve owned for 30 plus years. Below are some factors to consider and tips for downsizing older family members.

Factors to Consider When Downsizing

  • Size: Typically, a new space will be smaller or at least laid out differently from where they are leaving. Size not only limits physical space and room for furniture and possessions, but also any lifestyle changes. If relocating to a small, one-bedroom apartment, one probably does not need a dinner set for four and formal living room furniture.
  • Amenities: Will there be certain amenities the new space offers? Perhaps, the new facility has a community laundry room. Now you can sell or give the washing machine and dryer away. Consider these factors when making arrangements.
  • Storage: It is also important to think about storage. Smaller units usually have little to no storage, so keeping only the essentials is encouraged.

System for Downsizing

  • Declutter: Organization is not a priority for most people over the age of 70. It has likely been years since they have done any decluttering or downsizing in their own home. Take an overall assessment and start by getting rid of any trash, unnecessary items, and outdated things.
  • Donate: Instead of throwing things away or discarding items, try donating things. Find a local Goodwill, charity, or even family members to donate unwanted belongings.
  • Document: In any move, it is almost inevitable that things are going to get lost or misplaced. Keeping detailed notes and even photographing items and spaces will allow loved ones to stay organized and have an accurate inventory. Use photos to help recreate similar setups of their previous space to their new place.

Giving up a home lived in for years and moving to a new and unfamiliar space can be challenging for seniors. Include keepsakes such as photos, trinkets, letters, and other items that will help them feel connected to their old home and life. These will help provoke fond memories and be comforting, should they need it.

Be patient and allot time to adjust to the new place. Be friendly, introduce your family member to neighbors and encourage them to partake in community and group events. Making some friends will help with the adjustment and eventually they may feel right at home.


If you are planning on helping your senior loved one downsize to a smaller place and need some advice on what this could look like, give Harmony Home Care a call at 916-933-9777 or visit our website. Our professionals are more than happy to serve those in need of caregiving assistance in California’s: Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, and Yolo counties.

Author: Cheryl Pigott

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