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    Downsizing for Seniors: How to Plan for a Relaxing, Clutter-Free Future

    Photo courtesy of Unsplash

    Article Contributed by Mike Longsdon who can be reached at mike@elderfreedom.net

    The late George Carlin, a comedian famous for his keen social commentaries, once said, “Your house is a place where you keep your stuff.” Jokes aside, there’s some truth to Carlin’s words. The Atlantic recently reported that Americans are accumulating “mountains” of belongings, thanks to online shopping’s ease and affordability.

    Given the hundreds of thousands of items we amass over a lifetime, it’s no wonder why many seniors want to downsize. After all, retirement is more relaxing without all that clutter. Additionally, decluttering reduces stress and gives you a mood boost, while downsizing improves accessibility and safety.

    Whether you’re a senior who’s planning a new chapter of life or a loved one interested in helping with a move, there are some ways you can ensure a smooth process. Here are some tips:

    Downsizing Considerations

    In addition to helping seniors get the most out of their retirement income, a smaller home is easier to manage. For instance, condominiums and townhouses often have neighborhood associations that mow the lawn and handle roof maintenance for their residents. Likewise, seniors with arthritis or limited mobility might choose a single-story home with an open floor plan.

    When it comes to finding the perfect home for one’s golden years, you’d be surprised at how little space you need. More significant considerations include layout, convenience, and community. Is the home accessible? Will you have access to engaging social activities? Do you like the location? These are just a few questions to consider while house hunting.

    Assisted Living

    It’s also wise to consider that there may be a time down the road when you or your loved one would be safer in an assisted living facility. When many people think of elder care centers, they probably think of nursing homes. However, assisted living communities are an ideal option for seniors who need assistance with daily tasks but still want to be independent. Seniors live in studio or one-bedroom apartments, surrounded by people their age.

    There are more than 40 assisted living communities in Jacksonville, and all of them provide daily help with tasks like dressing and bathing, and there’s the added benefit of onsite amenities like a beautician or barber and regularly scheduled activities. If you decide on assisted living, start researching local facilities now. Many facilities have long waitlists, so you’ll want to get a head start on your application and put down a deposit, if needed, to ensure you or your loved one is accepted into a preferred community when the time is right. 

    Decluttering Techniques

    Once you’ve found the perfect home, it’s time to declutter. Unloading all that extra stuff will not only make the home safer; it will also make moving day quicker and easier. Of course, when it comes to a lifetime’s worth of belongings, getting rid of possessions can be difficult and emotional. Here are some techniques that can help:

    • Donate it. MSN recommends dividing your belongings into three piles: items to keep, get rid of, or undecided items. Trash the rubbish and give away unused items that you don’t want to trash. If you don’t know anyone who wants your old belongings, you can donate them for a tax write-off.
    • Store it. Not ready to part with some of those items cluttering your home? A storage unit could be the perfect option. Most cities have affordable, climate-controlled storage spaces. If you don’t have room for those beloved family heirlooms, you can get them out of sight without having to part with them.
    • Sell it. If you have valuable items you’re not using, like non-sentimental jewelry or furniture, consider selling them. Websites like Craigslist and Facebook can help you sell things to people online. Alternatively, The Washington Post recommends hosting an estate sale to get maximum cash for those unused items. You can use that extra money to fund moving costs.

    When it comes to your future, it’s never too soon to start planning. That way, if you need extra care during your senior years, you’ll still be able to maintain some independence. Remember, there’s no need to keep up with the Joneses. By reducing unused belongings and moving into a small, accessible home, you’ll be free to focus on your main priority: enjoying this new chapter of your life.

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