So you’ve decided that moving to senior living is right for you. You’re excited about the idea of downsizing, having all sorts of amenities on-site and the convenience of aging in place. Now, all you have to do is actually do it … and that’s where you’re a little bit stuck.
“Making the mental decision to downsize is fantastic, because it means that you can really look forward to the next steps of the process,” says Milissa Cwenar, Sales Counselor at Peter Becker Community. “But it is a process, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out where to start. Luckily, there are a myriad of resources available to you that will help you plan your course of action.”
Milissa says that the most important step (besides actually making the decision to downsize) is to do your research. “There are more options than ever when it comes to senior living lifestyles, so you’ll want to make sure to take your time and decide what features, amenities and opportunities are important to you,” she says. “There’s really no right or wrong answer; simply the answer that suits you best.”
First, Find Your New Home
Milissa recommends that, before you do anything else in the downsizing process, you take your time to figure out where you’ll be moving. On a high level, this allows you to have an endgame in sight. “Knowing where you’re going to go makes the process more concrete and exciting,” she says. “Otherwise the process of downsizing can, through no fault of your own, get drawn out and pushed to the side as other priorities come up.”
Take some time to think about the things you’re looking for from this next stage of life. What type of lifestyle do you want? What would you like to do with your retirement years, and what activities and opportunities are you hoping to find? Think long-term and immediate, as well as high-level and practical. For example, you may want to live in a community near family members, or perhaps you’d like to move to a more destination-focused place. Do you want to live in a big city or in a more rural area? Near the beach or in the mountains? You’ll also want to make decisions on things like whether you’d like an apartment or a standalone home, what type of care levels you require in a community, if you want a large or small campus and so on and so forth. Think about your health needs now and in the future as well.
Once you’ve put together a destination and a list of your wants and needs, it’s time to do some digging. Spend some time on the Internet researching different communities in the location or locations you love. Having a list of your must-haves and want-to-haves will help you narrow down your option to a manageable list. Be sure to read online reviews, visit senior living forums and ask friends and family about their experiences. Talking to people who have moved or whose family members have already gone through this process may give you things to think about that you wouldn’t have considered before.
You don’t have to necessarily make a complete and final decision before you start the downsizing process. However, having an idea of approximately where you want to go – and more important, approximately how much space you’re going to have when you eventually do move – will make the tactical and physical part of downsizing a whole lot easier.
Then, Determine What Makes Your Home a Home
This step of the process can be done in tandem with searching for a new community. As you’re searching for your new home, look around your house to see what, specifically, makes it your home. This includes objects and items that have sentimental value or simply give you pleasure. Items like artwork, family heirlooms, precious souvenirs and favorite pieces of furniture are all things that should be considered in your upcoming move. This is also the time to get rid of those things that are worn out and you simply just don’t love. Pull out those linens and dishes that you absolutely love but only save for special occasions – those can go with you and become your everyday items. “This is the time of your life to take only the things you love and that are valuable to you,” says Milissa. “Say goodbye to the things that are threadbare, chipped or otherwise not perfect. You’re worth it!”
A good way to put together a list of must-take items is to go through your house room by room and decide what items you can live without. This allows you to see your “stuff” a little differently. “We all have items that we use on a daily basis that we can give up in order to get something new that we love,” says Milissa. “This is your chance to get rid of the old overstuffed furniture that you don’t like but is still serviceable, while saving the antique footstool that you simply love and has been a part of your family for generations.”
Pass Down Heirlooms Now Instead of Later
All of us have heirlooms or items that we’ve decided to pass along to children or other family members. Downsizing is the perfect opportunity for you to give those items to your loved ones and watch them enjoy them during your lifetime. It’s also a great chance for you to see what your loved ones actually want or need – it’s possible that the grandfather clock that you planned on giving to your daughter is something she doesn’t want, but your son really loves. Or, it could be an item that your loved ones simply don’t want, which allows you to find a new home for them.
“The point of downsizing – besides simply getting rid of stuff – is to let go of the things that don’t bring you joy anymore or have outlived their usefulness, which frees you up to keep only the things that you truly love or want,” says Milissa. “Many retirees and older adults look at this as a chance to turn over a new page and begin a fresh new chapter full of options and opportunities.”
If You Get Overwhelmed, Stop
Having an endgame in sight is good, and having deadlines is even better. Make a plan to get through your downsizing (or at least your first round of downsizing) by a certain time, such as a milestone birthday or a particular season. However, that doesn’t mean that you should rush. In fact, it’s best to give yourself plenty of time. Downsizing can bring up lots of different emotions, and it can be overwhelming to parse through an entire lifetime of things and memories. Plan for reminiscing time so that you don’t have to feel rushed. Remember that it took you a lifetime to gather all these things, so it’s okay if you don’t get through everything in a month or even six months. Be thoughtful, and you’ll be better able to make decisions that will benefit you now and in the future.
Your Moments Are at the Heart of What We Do
At Peter Becker Community, it’s our mission each day to celebrate your individuality, whether you reside here full-time or are here as a temporary resident of our Health Care Center. Our support and encouragement are always expressed one-on-one. As a Continuing Care Retirement Community, we provide an environment that empowers you to remain active and independent, while ensuring your future needs will always be met. As a not-for-profit community, we are focused exclusively on the well-being of our residents.
We offer a full range of services – from independent Residential Living, to Personal Care, to Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation services, to compassionate Memory Care in our secure Memory Care neighborhood. Life here is good – it’s enriched by the time, choices, connections and involvement you’ll discover at our Continuing Care Retirement Community.
With our spectrum of activities, amenities, dining options, maintenance-free living and so much more, you’ll discover you spend more time enjoying our lifestyle and less time worrying about the details of life. You’ll find choices to build a secure life, connections that build closeness, involvement in the world at large and time to explore it all.
For more information about the services provided at Peter Becker Community, or to schedule a personal visit to our Continuing Care Retirement Community in Montgomery county, please contact us at (215) 720-1087 to begin the conversation.