Just as college freshmen pack for their new adventure, deciding what to take and how to personalize their new living space, many retirees are doing the same. And like those students, older adults moving to a retirement community may feel a similar mix of excitement and uncertainty.
Downsizing and relocating can cause anxiety for even the most positive seniors. A few tips on how to simplify the process can lessen the stress and increase the anticipation of their new approach to retirement living. Here is some guidance on downsizing from an existing residence and personalizing a new one.
Downsize – Be open to the fact that some decisions will be tough. But at the same time, you may experience a sense of freedom and renewed energy as you rid yourself of clutter and items you no longer need.
- Start as soon as you can, as it might take longer than you think. Accept assistance from friends or family members who are willing to help.
- Manage the process a room or closet at a time. Otherwise, you might become overwhelmed.
- Enjoy the feeling of shedding useless “stuff.” Shred worthless papers such as cancelled checks and old bills. Donate or give away clothes you no longer wear and household items you don’t use. Many organizations that accept donations will gladly collect them from your home.
- Organize your possessions by separating them by category: “save,” “sell,” “donate” or “discard.” Get an appraisal of any items that might be valuable before selling them.
- Measure the space of your new rooms, as well as cupboards and storage areas. That will help you determine which of your belongings will make the move to your new home.
- Be as decisive as you can: “yes” to keep and “no” to give away or toss out. Avoid “maybes” as much as possible. A big pile of “maybes” means you will have to deal with them again. Items that you use regularly are probably “yeses.” Those that you don’t are probably “nos.” (Exceptions: cherished keepsakes, heirlooms and photographs).
- Even with those prized keepsakes, heirlooms and photos, you won’t have room for all of them. Select your favorites for your new home and consider giving some to family members or friends. You might want to take photos to preserve the memory of meaningful items you give away.
Personalize – Now for the fun part, as you get to create an attractive living space, composed of furnishings and items you still treasure and recent purchases to freshen up your new residence. “Our residents decorate their own apartments with their distinctive looks,” says Jan Santer, Country Meadows’ director of design. “While our design team has already selected paint colors and window treatments with universal appeal, new residents just need to add their personal touches.”
- Increase your comfort during your transition by positioning your furniture and decorations in a fashion similar to their placement in your former home.
- Create a warm environment in your new home with comfy chairs, quilts, photographs, framed pictures and books.
- Display your most treasured items and photographs prominently so that you see them regularly.
- Keep household items that you use most often in places that are convenient and easily accessible.
- Be creative with storage areas. Use storage organizers to keep them tidy and safe. You may have ample storage space, but it probably will be less than you had before. That’s OK—you won’t hang onto items if you don’t have room for them.
- Ensure your walking safety by keeping floors, hallways and stairs clear of belongings that can become hazards.
If you or a loved one are choosing a retirement community or considering such a move, we invite you to contact us. We would be glad to provide you with information on our senior communities or schedule a visit for you to see firsthand our broad range of services. We can give you a preview of any of our senior independent living communities or assisted living or personal care homes.
At our retirement home communities, you will observe residents with full lives in a family-oriented, caring environment. Country Meadows has 10 retirement communities in Pennsylvania as well as a Maryland retirement home.