f just the thought of moving makes you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. After all, it’s not something you do very often. And there’s no doubt about it: Selling a house you’ve lived in for any length of time, preparing to move, actually moving, and getting settled in your new place all add up to a big event.

Downsizing can be a significant undertaking, especially for seniors. The thought of moving from a large home to a smaller scale, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment can seem daunting. 

Some people actually look forward to reducing their belongings so they can enjoy living in a more carefree, smaller place that requires less upkeep. Others may be reluctant due to the range of emotions that downsizing may produce.  

If you’re moving to a senior living community, you’re not on your own … far from it. The community will likely offer advice to help simplify and organize every step of the process for you. They do this so that you can experience a smooth, stress-free transition to your new home, and start enjoying the many joys of community life that much sooner.

Following are tips to help seniors take the first step in simplifying their lives.

First, determine what is important to you as you evaluate the right place to move. Loneliness, not eating right, home maintenance and chores, health issues, driving challenges, and being homebound and unable to see friends are among the reasons why a person considers moving. Ask yourself, what is important to you in a senior living community? Is it friends?  Is it the type or quality of food? Is it socialization? Is it activities? Is it access to spiritual offerings? Pick a place that helps you feel like you have purpose in your life and one where you will be able to enjoy life again due to the amenities they have to offer.

If you are experiencing health or medical issues that are hindering your quality of life, it may be time to look at making a move to a senior living community with options to assist you with your needs, either now or in the future. A senior care community with a “continuum of care” like Benedictine Living Community-Wahpeton can provide a range of services that encourages independence longer and adapts to meet seniors’ changing needs over time. Such offerings begin with independent living and assisted living and transition to basic care (Medicaid), or long-term nursing care – all available on one campus – offering convenience and the right level of care at the right time.

Next, make a list. Take one room each day and write on a sheet of paper the name of each item in the room and where you want it to go. There are five places where items currently in the home that you are downsizing can go:  keep (take to your new home), give to family, donate, sell, and throw away. Enlist support from friends and family members to help make the process easier. Mark each item with different color tape to make it easy for movers or family members to know who should receive each item or where you want it to go.  

Once you have a list from each room, make a list of the specific items that you want to take to your new home that you have selected. Be sure in advance that you get the measurements of your new home. This will make it easier to know what will fit where and which items you will be able to take with you without any questioning. Then, pick an area of your current home where you can start to gather the things that you want to take with you to your new home.  

Remember, there are many charitable organizations that gladly accept donations (often with a tax deduction option). There are also places online where you can post things to sell without having to just give them away.  It’s good to de-clutter now versus waiting until later. There will be things that you will just have to discard as they do not work or have value any longer … let go so you will continue to flourish! If you have designated certain things to your kids or family members, have them come right away to pick it up so that it’s one less thing on your mind. Remember, possessions are materialistic – it’s the memories that are most important.  Now is the time to take all of the cherished moments in your heart with you to your new home.  

As the saying goes, “out with the old and in with the new”….new friendships, new experiences, and a new quality of life await in senior living communities. You will start to thrive again in a home where there is safety, security and assistance if needed, along with people just like you experiencing the same life changes. 
Happy packing!

Pam Meyer is wellness director at Benedictine Living Community-Wahpeton.

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