There’s nothing quite like a move to make you realize how much stuff you’ve accumulated. That’s especially true if you’re considering downsizing and moving to a senior living community.
If you’re like most seniors, you’ll ultimately be glad you made the decision — and maybe even wish you’d made it sooner. However, in the meantime, you have a lot of stuff to deal with, both literally and figuratively.
Downsizing is a big and demanding task. Even so, keeping your eye on the ultimate rewards will likely help make the process easier to navigate. Some common benefits of downsizing and moving to a senior living community include:
Predictable (and potentially lower) living expenses. Even if your mortgage is paid off, owning a home comes with financial obligations for taxes, insurance and costly maintenance. In a senior living community, you can expect a consistent monthly payment that covers the majority of your living expenses.
Freedom from tedious responsibilities. Major repair work aside, homeowners have plenty of ongoing chores like yardwork, housekeeping and laundry. In a maintenance-free senior living community, you don’t need to worry about trimming the lawn or shoveling the driveway. Of course, a smaller living space also means less upkeep, and you can expect regular housekeeping and linen service, among other conveniences that make life less work and more fun.
A home better suited for your needs. As you age, certain features in your home may become less practical. A steep front entry, stairs, narrow hallways and doorways, and a bathroom with a tub you have to climb into (versus a walk-in shower) are all potential hazards. You won’t find any of those challenges in a community designed for maximum senior mobility and safety.
Access to wellness and medical services. Nearly all senior living communities offer some form of wellness programming to help residents reach their full potential. In addition, Life Plan Communities, also known as continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs, provide a full continuum of healthcare services on-site so if your needs change in the future, you’re assured of access to quality care.
A natural environment for socializing. Over time, most seniors find their social circle growing smaller, but loneliness can lead to depression and a host of other wellness concerns. Living in a community surrounded by peers, you’re sure to find some who share your interests and become lifelong friends.
Give yourself plenty of time. Avoid putting additional unnecessary pressure on yourself by trying to cram too much into too short a time frame. Plan on dedicating at least a few months to the process so you can pace yourself comfortably.
Allow the emotions to come (and go — and come again). Moving from the home you know and love can be bittersweet. Give yourself permission to work through the emotions as they come, rather than suppressing any sadness or nervousness you may feel. That way you’ll enter your new home carrying less emotional baggage, ready for a fresh start.
Start by decluttering. Getting rid of the excess may make a bigger dent in your belongings than you realize. Often, items that qualify as clutter have little emotional attachment, so you can ease into the process of parting with your belongings. Here’s another decluttering tip: Remember when you declutter, it’s not just about getting rid of trash. Also eliminate duplicates of useful items, like an extra colander or more t-shirts than you’ll wear in a month.
Tackle one room at a time. Breaking your big job into many smaller tasks will make it feel more manageable. You may also find it helpful to begin in a room like the bathroom or pantry, where you’re less likely to have emotional ties to things and can establish a system for sorting what to keep, give to loved ones, donate or toss.
Be realistic about what you keep. You’ll be most effective and efficient at sorting your belongings if you have a community selected and know the floor plan of your new home. That way, you can approach downsizing by making practical decisions about what stays and what goes based on the space you’ll have available and the rooms you need to fill.
Senior living communities come in all shapes and sizes. Some feel like you’ve stepped onto a docked cruise ship. Others feel sterile and institutional. Then there’s Jefferson’s Ferry, where you feel like you’re at home.
At this Life Plan Community in South Setauket, New York, you’ll find comfortable one- and two-bedroom senior apartment floor plans ideal for downsizing. However, your private independent living home is just part of what makes the community an attractive option. You can look forward to the freedom of maintenance-free living, services like biweekly housekeeping and thoughtful amenities that make for a richer, more meaningful retirement.
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