Senior man in empty room after downsizing

Share Via Email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Tips to Downsizing to a Retirement Community

If you’re one of the thousands of seniors considering making the move to an Independent Living community — like Lakewood — you’ve probably realized just how similar the process is to house hunting. You need to find the location, services and amenities, and floor plans that fit your lifestyle, budget, and goals for the future. Once all that’s figured out, you need a plan to make your move. This blog post will offer some things to consider to help you select the best retirement community along with downsizing tips. 

How to Find the Right Community

After you’ve read all the websites and narrowed down your selection, it’s time to start visiting your top choices. Having a chance to see the benefits of each community’s lifestyle firsthand and talk with residents about what they like about it are invaluable. Here are some benefits of choosing an Independent Living community.  

  • Social life: Communities often have monthly calendars filled with day trips, dances, happy hours, book clubs, educational lectures, classes and shopping excursions, making it easy to meet others.
  • Freedom: Imagine what you’d have time to do if you no longer had to worry about housekeeping, cooking, or home upkeep and repairs. An Independent Living community offers a maintenance-free lifestyle that gives you fewer responsibilities and more time to pursue life’s possibilities. 
  • Dining: You can enjoy nutritious, delicious meals from a well-balanced menu prepared by a talented culinary team. Most communities also offer a variety of dining venues, from a more formal dining room with an attentive waitstaff to a café and even grab-and-go options.
  • Health and wellness: Fitness is essential to remaining active and engaged. One big benefit of Independent Living communities is access to a fitness center with equipment and classes designed specifically for older adults. They also have wellness programs focused on bringing joy, growth, community and purpose to your life.
  • Volunteer opportunities: Most senior living communities offer a variety of volunteer opportunities on and off campus. You could volunteer to be on a community committee or club. You could also join other residents in volunteering at an area school, hospital, library or community center. 
  • Peace of mind: Choosing a Life Plan Community — like Lakewood — means you can enjoy Independent Living for all the years ahead, but you’ll also have access to a full continuum of care. That means you’ll have the assurance of future care services — like Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation — should you ever need them. 
  • Financial security: A Life Plan Community that offers a Life Care contract provides you and your family with financial predictability since those levels of care are provided without substantial increases in monthly fees. If you’ve ever looked at the cost of higher levels of care, you know how substantial these savings could be.

Floor Plan Questions to Consider

Before making a move, it’s important to make sure you’re picking an Independent Living floor plan that will fit your needs. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide:

  • Layout: Is the layout convenient? Is it easy to get to the rooms you’ll use the most? 
  • Lifestyle: Does the floor plan reflect the way you like to entertain? Do you like hosting dinner parties, having friends over to watch a movie, or sitting with your grandchildren while you play games?  
  • Lighting: How’s the lighting? Do you have a lot of windows that let in natural light, or will you need to add lamps and other light fixtures?
  • Storage: How much storage space do you have, and is there additional space available in the building if you need it?
  • Interests: Will you have room to work on your hobbies? If you like to bake, how’s the kitchen? If you collect books or like to read, are there built-in book shelves? 
  • Future-proof: Can you imagine how you’ll use each room, or is there wasted space? In five or 10 years, will this be too much space, not enough or just right?

Start Downsizing

There’s usually a story behind the things you own: fond memories, special gifts or family heirlooms. If you get stuck trying to decide what to do with something during the downsizing process, here are four key questions to ask yourself that can help you figure out whether to keep, give away, or sell a specific possession.

  • Is this something you use regularly, and has it been used in the past year?
  • Does it truly enhance your quality of life?
  • Would this item physically fit in your smaller living space and future lifestyle?
  • Does it have a significant dollar value?

Downsizing Suggestions

You’re about to begin an exciting new phase of your life, but first you’ll need to do a few things to prepare for your move. Why not make it as easy as possible? These suggestions will help you stay focused so you can enjoy all the new experiences waiting for you.

  • Get organized: Make a list for every room in your house, and sort each possession into one of four categories: Keep, Give Away, Sell, and Decide Later. As you make your lists, consider the four questions above. (Note: Everything on the Decide Later list eventually must move to either the Keep, Sell, or Give Away list.)
  • Be ruthless: As hard as it may be to decide, keep only what you use or what has significant sentimental (or perhaps monetary) value.
  • Only the necessities: Choose the most necessary furniture items first like a bed, dresser, small kitchen table with a couple of chairs, couch, and an end table. Then, if there’s still room, you can add extra pieces.
  • Pass it on: Do your friends or family members have their eye on one of your possessions? Why not share now? You’ll have the joy of watching them enjoy what’s precious to you both.
  • You style: Keep only the possessions that make your house distinctively your home. Framed family photos, artwork and other cherished items should have a spot in your new place to help create a familiar and homelike environment. 
  • Ditch the pots and pans: After you move, you’ll probably be cooking less and taking advantage of the community’s meal plan more. Consider keeping only what you need and giving the rest away.
  • Clear the shed: When you choose a maintenance-free community like Lakewood, we’ll take care of the mowing and leaf removal. Plus, we’ll look after the plumbing, heating and air conditioning, so you won’t need most of your tools.
  • Book it: Make sure to keep your favorite books, and then share the joy of reading with others by donating or selling the rest.
  • Clean linens: Take stock of your sheets, blankets and bath towels, and throw away any threadbare, stained or unmatched items. In fact, once you’ve moved, you might want all new items to match your new space.
  • Fashion sense: Maybe one of the hardest things to go through are your coats and clothes. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it in the last 12 months, then you probably don’t need it anymore.
  • Start now: If you haven’t already started decluttering and downsizing, how about tackling a drawer, closet or room right now?

Taking the first step.

If you’re ready to make the move to an independent senior living community, consider Lakewood. We’re the area’s only Life Plan Community offering the security of Life Care with access to higher levels of care in our 4-Star-rated health center. 

Our resident-centric culture will enhance your active lifestyle and is backed by LifeSpire of Virginia, an organization that’s been serving seniors for over 70 years. To check out our lifestyle or see the bright, open Independent Living floor plans of our studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment homes for yourself, contact us here.