seniors packing up boxes to move into senior living

Three Steps for Rightsizing to a Senior Living Residence

Everyone knows the story of Goldilocks and her search for porridge, a chair, and a bed that was just right for her — yet ended up making a mess of the bears’ cottage.

Maybe Goldilocks just got a bad rap.

After all, she was a little girl lost in the woods with no one to ask for help. So what if we update the children’s story, and Goldilocks is now an older adult looking for help downsizing into a senior living residence? With a little research, she’d discover helpful steps for rightsizing into senior living before she ever sets out on her journey to Mary’s Woods, a senior living community near Portland, OR.

And with a little advance planning, Goldilocks could easily rightsize her life into a cottage — or an apartment home or villa — that feels juuuust right.

Step #1: Start early.

This is where Goldlocks first went wrong, because she had no plan when she started out. But if you’re trying to rightsize your life, this step is crucial. As the expression goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

So if you’re thinking of downsizing your home to move into an apartment in a senior living community, set a goal. Our suggestion is to start one year before your actual move. It will take longer than you expect to go through all your items, cabinets, dressers, bureaus, papers and knick-knacks in each of the many rooms of your house.

Step #2: Have a plan.

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, don’t despair. That’s where your plan comes in:

  • Look at where you’re moving from, and moving to. Yes, this one feels totally obvious. But once you get started downsizing into senior living, you’ll  be surprised how fast you forget you’re moving from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a two-car garage into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with a one-car garage at Mary’s Woods. Quick reminder: It won’t all fit. Keep your eyes on the prize, which is downsizing with intention into your senior living community.
  • Choose how to rightsize your life. You’re in control of this move and every decision associated with downsizing. Remember you’re rightsizing your life to get more from life with less things. So take it at your own pace and focus on what you’re gaining, not on what you’re losing.
  • Take it one room at a time. Start with one room, and don’t move on until each room is cleared out.
  • Have a system. Create KEEP, DISCARD, DONATE piles and move everything into one of these three piles.  Don’t make a MAYBE pile!
  • Be ruthless. Try not to be sentimental. Remember why you’re downsizing in the first place — maybe it’s to have more time and fewer worries. Maybe you’re ready to let go of so many “things” in your house. Maybe your house now is just too big for you. Maybe you don’t want to leave this for your kids to deal with. These are all good reasons, so embrace your reason, and keep it top of mind as you’re going through each room with your system.
  • Set a goal for yourself. When you plan early, you don’t have to do it all in a month. Mark your calendar with your target date, then work toward it. Give yourself a week to sort through each bedroom; four bedrooms means four weeks. Give yourself a weekend to go through a closet; eight closets is eight weekends. Watch out for the danger zones: attics, basements and garages. These are danger zones because we often store memories disguised as stuff in these spaces: boxes of your kids’ toys, old sports equipment, unfinished building projects, or  your aunt’s sewing machine. You get the idea. Ask your kids and family if they want any of it. If they’ve been given fair warning and don’t want it, donate or discard it.
  • Put your KEEP items in a box, and label that box by its room. If you have 20 large kitchen boxes but you’re moving to a place with a galley kitchen, it’s time to reevaluate what you plan to take.

Step #3: Don’t forget decluttering.

Decluttering is a lot like downsizing: You let go of what you really don’t need. So as you’re downsizing into senior living, try these decluttering tips:

  • Give away an item a day. Give an item to a family member, or put an item aside every day to donate to a thrift store at the end of the month. If you do this every day for a year, that’s 365 items! If you give away two items a day, that’s 730 items! You get the idea. 
  • Donate clothes you never wear. Try this: Hang your clothes on hangers in the reverse direction. If you wear it, hang it in the correct direction. if you still haven’t worn an item three months from now and it’s still backwards in your closet, out it goes.
  • Ask friends to help. Your friends have no attachment to your belongings. Ask a couple of friends to go through your home and identify five big items to get rid of. If you want to keep an item, you have to defend why and explain where it will go in your new place. If your friend doesn’t agree, out it goes.
  • Use a small piece of duct tape in your kitchen to decide what comes with you. Set a deadline of three months and put a piece of duct tape around the handle or on the bottom of every kitchen bowl, utensil or appliance you use. If after three months you find several items with no washi tape — because you haven’t used it. You know what to do: Out it goes.

You really can live happily ever after, at Mary’s Woods.

Goldilocks may be a fairy tale, but it’s totally possible to find your own happily ever after in real life. Just look into independent living at Mary’s Woods

Wondering what you can fit into the spare bedroom of your villa? Plenty, once you give away your rowing machine — Mary’s Woods has three fitness & wellness centers! Dubious about letting go of your bread maker? You may never need it again once you enjoy dinner in one of our seven dining venues.

Learning more about your living options is so easy. Just contact us, or call us at 1-800-968-8678. Our team is always ready to help answer your questions or set up your personal visit.