Downsizing, To Move or Not to Move? That is the Question

Posted by Rosemary, Volunteer Mentor @rosemarya, Apr 12, 2020

At some point as we age, we will have to make a decision about leaving our homes and downsizing. Maybe in our own town or to another town. Maybe to smaller home, condo, apartment, or assisted living/senior community.

When the time comes to downsize, seniors can struggle with a multitude of emotional, physical, and financial challenges.

How do you make an informed decision about when to downsize?
What tips do you have to share?

@davej

This is a reply to downsize and to move or not to move. I have a funny story and sad one at the same time I'd like to share before I tell you were I'm at. My freind Pete about 30 years ago was getting married and had to write his vows, and the last line was that the family would move every 2 years. After reading his vows his wife stopped the ceremony. She couldn't believe what she just heard. So the conversation with the two of them and the pastor took place. Pete stated his parents and her parents were both hoarders and to break that pattern the only way was to move every 2 years. I met Pete about 20 years after they were married and true to their word this family moved every 2 years.

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Sorry about that hit the send button read this after reading other text. Here is the sad part. Both families were very large, when both mom and dad died it took weeks for the kids to clean out the houses were mom and dad lived. Pete's wife told us, you sure learn alot about family when you have to clean out the houses. Pete and his wife were so happy to move every 2 years so as to not put their kids in that position. Now for me my 80 year old parents downsized and my dad stated if mom dies before me dad will just back a dumpster and throw everything out. My moms reply was no problem dont worry about all the money ive stashed in my things as she pulled out a book, opened it up and pulled out a 20 dollar bill. Needless to say our family was shocked. We've moved mom and dad into smaller house and moved rest of their thing into 6 yes 6 rented storage lockers. My parents were paying more for storage than their rent because both of them couldn't get rid of their stuff. 10 years have now passed both my parents are still with us, but they realize that they didnt need all that stuff. So little by little they have been going thru their things and getting rid of it. As of today 10/8/20 their Down to a small locker. Life for them seems to be happier with less stuff. My parents now fill their lives with people and not stuff. I didnt know I had the same problem until my wife said something to me. I couldn't believe that, even though I had their Gene's. So for me and people around me my advice is start with something small. Have 3 piles or so 1 pile to keep 2nd pile to sell or donate and 3 pile for trash. Try on clothes 1 at a time. Trust me it will take time. After you get on a roll it will get easier. I have other good options but I will respond back specifically to each person have a great rest of the day enjoy the weather, here in MN weather has been awesome last couple of days dave

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My husband & I have been dealing with this issue for the past year. We've lived in our home on 2 lovely acres for over 30 years, raised our family here. But the maintenance & upkeep has become a burden, now that we are in our 70s. A year ago we found a nice house on a small lot in a great community, closer to our daughter's family. It seemed ideal but when it was time to commit to it, my husband had panic attacks at the thought and we backed out. He had recently closed his small business, retired, and began having hearing loss, so maybe it was too many big changes to handle at once. He has had some mental health counseling and is somewhat more relaxed and accepting of life as it is. Then last spring we put an offer in on a house, just as the stock market plunged because of Coronavirus. Again we backed out, as a good chunk of our retirement money is in the stock market.
We've gotten rid of a lot of the unnecessary stuff accumulated over 30 years, but he has a lot of tools and equipment that he may or may not need in the future. I keep an eye out for another possible home purchase but I'm afraid of getting my hopes dashed again.

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@criss

My husband & I have been dealing with this issue for the past year. We've lived in our home on 2 lovely acres for over 30 years, raised our family here. But the maintenance & upkeep has become a burden, now that we are in our 70s. A year ago we found a nice house on a small lot in a great community, closer to our daughter's family. It seemed ideal but when it was time to commit to it, my husband had panic attacks at the thought and we backed out. He had recently closed his small business, retired, and began having hearing loss, so maybe it was too many big changes to handle at once. He has had some mental health counseling and is somewhat more relaxed and accepting of life as it is. Then last spring we put an offer in on a house, just as the stock market plunged because of Coronavirus. Again we backed out, as a good chunk of our retirement money is in the stock market.
We've gotten rid of a lot of the unnecessary stuff accumulated over 30 years, but he has a lot of tools and equipment that he may or may not need in the future. I keep an eye out for another possible home purchase but I'm afraid of getting my hopes dashed again.

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Truly a tough decision! We are not there yet, but I know the day will come as we have 3 levels and a medium-sized but elaborate yard with gardens and a pond. Fortunately there are MANY options, condos, townhouses, detached single family, apartments in our immediate area, and both daughters are nearby. So, I persist in clearing out whenever & wherever possible.

My parents set a good example, moving from a big home to a smaller one, then a mobile home. Finally Mom moved to successively smaller apartments as her health became worse, and they shed possessions all along the way. By then end, Mom had given everything of value to her kids and grandkids, and left a list of who was to get the remaining (lovely) furniture & her jewelry. We held a one-evening giveaway of the rest to her grandchildren, so each could have something to remember her by. It was lovely no tension, no fighting…in contrast to cleaning out my in-law's home of 40 years with only the help of my parents. My husband's sister still asks us to send her certain long-gone things – 25 years later!
Sue

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@criss

My husband & I have been dealing with this issue for the past year. We've lived in our home on 2 lovely acres for over 30 years, raised our family here. But the maintenance & upkeep has become a burden, now that we are in our 70s. A year ago we found a nice house on a small lot in a great community, closer to our daughter's family. It seemed ideal but when it was time to commit to it, my husband had panic attacks at the thought and we backed out. He had recently closed his small business, retired, and began having hearing loss, so maybe it was too many big changes to handle at once. He has had some mental health counseling and is somewhat more relaxed and accepting of life as it is. Then last spring we put an offer in on a house, just as the stock market plunged because of Coronavirus. Again we backed out, as a good chunk of our retirement money is in the stock market.
We've gotten rid of a lot of the unnecessary stuff accumulated over 30 years, but he has a lot of tools and equipment that he may or may not need in the future. I keep an eye out for another possible home purchase but I'm afraid of getting my hopes dashed again.

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Your house is out there just keep an open mind and the right one will come along.

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@sueinmn

Truly a tough decision! We are not there yet, but I know the day will come as we have 3 levels and a medium-sized but elaborate yard with gardens and a pond. Fortunately there are MANY options, condos, townhouses, detached single family, apartments in our immediate area, and both daughters are nearby. So, I persist in clearing out whenever & wherever possible.

My parents set a good example, moving from a big home to a smaller one, then a mobile home. Finally Mom moved to successively smaller apartments as her health became worse, and they shed possessions all along the way. By then end, Mom had given everything of value to her kids and grandkids, and left a list of who was to get the remaining (lovely) furniture & her jewelry. We held a one-evening giveaway of the rest to her grandchildren, so each could have something to remember her by. It was lovely no tension, no fighting…in contrast to cleaning out my in-law's home of 40 years with only the help of my parents. My husband's sister still asks us to send her certain long-gone things – 25 years later!
Sue

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Your note brought a tear to my eye for sadness and happiness at the same time. As I said my parents are in the 80s and I tell them all the time give, to give it way while your living and then you can see with your own eyes the enjoyment it brings to others. A cousin never had a christmas like most people that family would go on a trip. We never remember the gifts or I dont remember but the 3 kids can tell you about every christmas they had for the last 25 years. Interestingng to talk to them about a vacation for example to san Diego were I lived while in service and they did the same things I did ver very cool dave

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@davej

This is a reply to downsize and to move or not to move. I have a funny story and sad one at the same time I'd like to share before I tell you were I'm at. My freind Pete about 30 years ago was getting married and had to write his vows, and the last line was that the family would move every 2 years. After reading his vows his wife stopped the ceremony. She couldn't believe what she just heard. So the conversation with the two of them and the pastor took place. Pete stated his parents and her parents were both hoarders and to break that pattern the only way was to move every 2 years. I met Pete about 20 years after they were married and true to their word this family moved every 2 years.

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@fiesty76 and all others who suffer with this unrelenting pain I'm sorry I had such an outburst yesterday wish I could take it back

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@lioness

@fiesty76 and all others who suffer with this unrelenting pain I'm sorry I had such an outburst yesterday wish I could take it back

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@lioness, I didn't see your post but this is a very understanding group. As this terrible pandemic drags on, I think more and more of us are experiencing some symptoms of stress, fatigue, and sense of loss because of the toll it continues to take on our overall well being.
As long as those in these groups continue to do what we can to stay safe and well, we can weather these uncertain times.

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@fiesty76

My Trusted Handy Man Is Moving
With the death of my best friend of 30+ years, her husband is planning to move out-of-state. These are the two people I’ve relied most on locally for emotional support and physical help. These have been my first line emergency responders day or night and not once have they let me down.

This week, the husband is coming over to install a lock on my garage door, adjust a new sensor detecting porch light; remove a kitchen drawer to remove baggies preventing its closure and replace a black tube in commode tank which flips out and sprays water on the wall. Granted, these projects have needed attention for 2-3 weeks. The question is, who will I ask next time I need help?

My only child and family live out-of-state. Before their recent move to another state, my daughter and I visited a couple of independent living facilities and we explored another couple during my first visit to their new location.

Following both visits, I came home energized and began making some preliminary downsizing efforts. In my 70’s, I soon lost the motivation to continue. It became easy to use stinkin’ thinkin’ to procrastinate and relax by saying to myself: “My daughter is so organized and efficient she’ll easily be able to get me moved into whatever I’ll require at the time, hold an estate sale, and take care of all the details required in selling this house".

How selfish is that? She already has a full time job keeping her two school aged sons and husband on schedule, fed, transported and satisfied knowing that she will see to the details that make their lives run smoothly.

My plan had long been to make one “final move” from a comfortable home of 46 years to my daughter’s location and into a senior facility which would provide advancing health care as needed. Covid-19 has made me rethink this plan.

What is my next move now? Regardless of whatever I move into in the future, the fact remains that I have far more in my house, garage and yards than I’ll possibly need, use or have space for in the new accommodation.

I am a paper magnet. All things paper find a comfortable, permanent space in my house. I still have sales receipts of the first early marriage furniture that continues to make up the “bones” of my daily life 50+ years later. A custom made occasional table, dining, coffee and lamp tables along with brass lamps and an occasional and dining chairs plus bedroom furniture daily and gratefully serve my needs. These items and receipts cannot all go with me to a new location.

Before thinking of what will be given away or donated, what might be sold, or taken with me, I can start by drilling down through my stashes of old receipts, IRS reports, greeting cards and letters, cookbooks and notebooks of recipes and gardening printouts, photos and gift wrap.

Yes, I will start here. To prevent burn out, I’ll set the timer for a work session on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. My goal for 2020 was to walk three times/week and setting specific days for those walks kept me on target. I’ve met the goal for nine months so I know I can do this, too.

This will provide a new diversion and worthwhile endeavor for the coming weeks of pandemic uncertainty and move me closer to my goal of downsizing.

Anyone care to join me?

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@migizii – I’d be glad to help, but I think we live many many many miles and states apart😔. You’ll get it done though….

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@criss

My husband & I have been dealing with this issue for the past year. We've lived in our home on 2 lovely acres for over 30 years, raised our family here. But the maintenance & upkeep has become a burden, now that we are in our 70s. A year ago we found a nice house on a small lot in a great community, closer to our daughter's family. It seemed ideal but when it was time to commit to it, my husband had panic attacks at the thought and we backed out. He had recently closed his small business, retired, and began having hearing loss, so maybe it was too many big changes to handle at once. He has had some mental health counseling and is somewhat more relaxed and accepting of life as it is. Then last spring we put an offer in on a house, just as the stock market plunged because of Coronavirus. Again we backed out, as a good chunk of our retirement money is in the stock market.
We've gotten rid of a lot of the unnecessary stuff accumulated over 30 years, but he has a lot of tools and equipment that he may or may not need in the future. I keep an eye out for another possible home purchase but I'm afraid of getting my hopes dashed again.

Jump to this post

Criss, I'm just in the middle of reading a book called The End of Old Age : Living a Longer More Purposeful Life by Marc Agronin. He's a geriatric psychiatrist with years of experience helping people deal with the changes of aging. He talks about the stages that we have to go through when we come to a crisis point such as making a major change, loss of a close relationship or dealing with a health crisis and how we need to find our way through and find the meaning in the new situation. It is similar to working through the stages of grief. All these changes can make us feel like we have lost control and don't know who we are anymore. It can be quite frightening and it seems to me that women deal better with such changes. I think we are used to having major changes in our roles through marriage, pregnancy, parenting, caretaking, etc. I just grabbed it off the shelf in the library and it has turned out to be such a good find. You might find it helpful too.

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@davej

Sorry about that hit the send button read this after reading other text. Here is the sad part. Both families were very large, when both mom and dad died it took weeks for the kids to clean out the houses were mom and dad lived. Pete's wife told us, you sure learn alot about family when you have to clean out the houses. Pete and his wife were so happy to move every 2 years so as to not put their kids in that position. Now for me my 80 year old parents downsized and my dad stated if mom dies before me dad will just back a dumpster and throw everything out. My moms reply was no problem dont worry about all the money ive stashed in my things as she pulled out a book, opened it up and pulled out a 20 dollar bill. Needless to say our family was shocked. We've moved mom and dad into smaller house and moved rest of their thing into 6 yes 6 rented storage lockers. My parents were paying more for storage than their rent because both of them couldn't get rid of their stuff. 10 years have now passed both my parents are still with us, but they realize that they didnt need all that stuff. So little by little they have been going thru their things and getting rid of it. As of today 10/8/20 their Down to a small locker. Life for them seems to be happier with less stuff. My parents now fill their lives with people and not stuff. I didnt know I had the same problem until my wife said something to me. I couldn't believe that, even though I had their Gene's. So for me and people around me my advice is start with something small. Have 3 piles or so 1 pile to keep 2nd pile to sell or donate and 3 pile for trash. Try on clothes 1 at a time. Trust me it will take time. After you get on a roll it will get easier. I have other good options but I will respond back specifically to each person have a great rest of the day enjoy the weather, here in MN weather has been awesome last couple of days dave

Jump to this post

"My parents now fill their lives with people, not stuff." Well said. That's the secret. Fill your life with people, activities, travel, volunteer work, learning, experiences, not stuff. I still go to yard sales. Still enjoy trolling through thrift stores and interesting little shops. I just very rarely buy anything and I can do a basic dust and vacuum cleaning of my whole home in half an hour. Life is good. At the end of my street, someone is building a huge storage facility. If I stood on the roof of my building, I could throw a stone and hit two of these huge facilities, full of mostly stuff that nobody ever uses.

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@starchy

"My parents now fill their lives with people, not stuff." Well said. That's the secret. Fill your life with people, activities, travel, volunteer work, learning, experiences, not stuff. I still go to yard sales. Still enjoy trolling through thrift stores and interesting little shops. I just very rarely buy anything and I can do a basic dust and vacuum cleaning of my whole home in half an hour. Life is good. At the end of my street, someone is building a huge storage facility. If I stood on the roof of my building, I could throw a stone and hit two of these huge facilities, full of mostly stuff that nobody ever uses.

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Hi,
You, and your family have a good attitude about stuff. Us Americans really have so much compared to other nations.
I’m burned out from looking after a large home, and property. I need to downsize. To clean and vacuum a place in less then an hour. Wow, you have it down to a science.
Funcountess

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Well – This discussion prompted me to keep going. I just gave my sewing room a "first look" and emptied a large box that has been waiting for attention since we returned from Texas, pulled out an extra sewing machine I know I will never use again to "free cycle" through a neighborhood group, and made room to begin sorting/purging fabrics. That should keep me busy for a day or two. Today, unprompted, my husband cleared out a couple dozen never-worn t-shirts from his bureau, and says he will look in the closet as well. There is an advantage to spending 1/2 of each year in 400 square feet – one becomes very aware of controlling stuff!

I also noticed my daughters have failed to reclaim their left-behind possessions from the family room as I requested this summer. I'll remind them once more, then discard or donate.
Sue

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