Downsizing for Seniors: Guide, Tips and Checklist — Paddock Ridge

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Downsizing Guide for Seniors

Wondering what downsizing will mean for you or a loved one who’s chosen to move to an assisted living or memory care community? You’re not alone. According to a study by Merrill Lynch, about 51% of retirees who moved had to go through the downsizing process.

Downsizing for seniors can be quite a daunting task, especially since they have so many cherished belongings they’ve accumulated over the years.

So where do you start? By breaking the process down into more manageable tasks, you or your loved one won’t get overwhelmed.

Here are some downsizing tips for seniors that will help you approach this in a simple and stress-free way:

Start Early

Decluttering and downsizing for seniors requires plenty of time to go through the process. To avoid putting yourself under extreme deadline pressure, start taking steps as early as one year to six months out from your intended move. If you’re unable to plan further in advance, try to work backward from the move-in date to set a timeline so you can finish downsizing before you need to contact movers and list the home for sale.

By spending a handful of hours each week dedicated to tasks, and by taking it one closet, cabinet or room at a time, the process becomes much more manageable.

Taking breaks in between also proves to be helpful — stepping away and coming back or taking a moment to enjoy some ice cream or a glass of wine with your loved one can allow you to recharge your energy and provide a much-needed break.

If you work best with keeping a checklist, MovesforSeniors breaks down a concise, timeline-oriented list that is sure to guide you through the downsizing process.

Ask the Important Questions

During the decluttering and downsizing process for seniors, the biggest question is “How do I decide what to take with me?” Figuring out how much room you or your loved one will have at the new space is key in understanding how much you should take with you. To help determine what you or your loved one should keep, ask these helpful questions:

  • Does it only have sentimental value?
  • How will it benefit you or your loved one in the new living space?
  • Has it been used recently?
  • Will this item be needed again in the future?
  • Is there room for it in the new residence?
Sort Thoughtfully

As you start to dive in deep and decide which items you’d like to keep and which you’d like to part with, know that an unused item can live out its intended purpose in the hands of a loved one or someone in need. There are several options available to you as you start to organize your belongings into keep, share, donate or recycle piles.


  • Determine which furniture pieces they think will work best for their new space.
  • Make sure to save some of the little things that truly make it feel like home (knickknacks, throw pillows, picture frames, decor, etc.).
  • If it’s getting close to the move, ensure that all your or your loved one’s necessities are packed and readily available (medications, toiletries, phone charger, etc.).


  • Give family members and loved ones the opportunity to pick out items they cherish or would like to keep.
  • Any vintage pieces that are still in good shape can be sold to local antique shops or through online postings.


  • Donate furniture, appliances and dishes to programs like Habitat for Humanity that will give those items to a family in need.
  • Many thrift and secondhand stores will have an interest in your clothing items, hats and bags.
  • If you’re looking to give away old toys your grandchildren or children have left behind, you can donate these to local women’s and children’s shelters.


  • Things like glass, paper, aluminum, metal and wood can be reused when given to the proper organizations.
  • Certain companies also take old electronics, batteries and cables for repurposing.
Ask the Experts on Senior Moving and Downsizing

If you’d like to see an apartment for a better idea of how much space you or your loved one might have to work with, we’d be more than happy to schedule a virtual tour for you. We’re here as a resource for helping seniors downsize and move during this process, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions.