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There are no one-size-fits-all hard and fast rules about when and how to downsize to smaller living quarters. But here are some things you should be thinking about now.

Think Ahead
Too often the decision to downsize is forced upon older adults by serious illness or even the death of a spouse—adding to an already stressful situation. So, it makes sense to start thinking now about how you’ll handle your living situation as you age. This means being brutally honest with yourself. Will you be able to comfortably stay in your current home if you experience healthy or mobility issues? Do you really need all of the space and belongings in your current home? More importantly, will you have desire, time and energy to continue maintaining it all?

Start thinking now about the lifestyle you’d like to enjoy as you age. It’s never too soon to start investigating communities and facilities to find the best fit for you. And empty that storage unit now before it’s time to move. If it (whatever “it” is) has been sitting in storage for years, you’re not likely to use it in the future.

Prepare Mentally/Emotionally
Downsizing can cause depression for some older adults as they view moving from the larger family home to smaller quarters as a loss. Instead, try to focus on the freedom smaller quarters and fewer belongings can bring. With less to take care of, you’ll gain more time (and likely money) to focus on your hobbies and interests. Many senior communities and facilities offer a wide variety of amenities and activities plus you’ll never shovel a sidewalk or trim a bush again! View downsizing as a new, exciting and probably less stressful chapter in your life.

Consider Hiring a Professional
Once you’ve made the decision to downsize from your larger home, most likely you’ll call a realtor to arrange for the sale of the house. But many people don’t think about hiring a professional for the actual downsizing and moving process. A Senior Move Manager can handle all the logistics of downsizing from helping you make those tough decisions about what to keep to coordinating with a mover to unpacking and setting up your new place.

Meeting with a senior move manager, you can together formulate a plan and timeline for your move to a smaller home. The senior move company can help you sort through and identify which items should move with you. They can then pack those items up, oversee the actual day-of-move, and then unpack and set up at your new home. After your move, the company can hold an estate sale to finish emptying the house with the money you receive helping to offset cost of your move. A senior move manager can also coordinate the donation of remaining items and even arrange for professional cleaning of the now empty home. Most senior move managers allow to you to choose the services that best fit your needs. Bringing in professional downsizing help means you’ll not only save yourself time and energy, but you’ll also reduce the potential burden on your adult children and other family members.

Downsizing to smaller living quarters is something most us will face. But with some preparation and professional help, downsizing can truly be the beginning of a new, exciting chapter in your life.

AUTHOR: The owner of Chesapeake Transitions, Marilyn Leek is a Certified Senior Move Manager® who has been providing support and guidance for Maryland seniors and their families for over a decade.