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5 Steps to Right Sizing — and Several Good Reasons to Start Now

October 31, 2023

tips for rightsizing

For many older adults who decide to move to a senior living community, it means selecting a smaller home. It’s also an opportunity to go through all of the “stuff” they’ve accumulated over the years and purge what they no longer want or need, a process commonly referred to as downsizing.

You may have also heard the term “right sizing.” Sometimes it’s used interchangeably with downsizing, even among people who work in senior living communities. But there are some distinct differences between the two.

Right Sizing vs. Downsizing

Both terms come from the corporate world. In business, downsizing refers to permanent staff reductions (and possibly departmental consolidations and other restructuring efforts). The main purpose is to cut costs so the company can remain profitable.

When companies undergo right sizing, their focus is on becoming more efficient. They might downsize in some areas, but they may also expand in others. For instance, they might eliminate certain products, services or locations that are not performing as well as others, while adding new employees, infrastructure and lines of business they see as central to their core operations going forward.

Applying Right Sizing and Downsizing to Our Lives

These same business concepts can be carried over to our personal lives — whether or not a move is in our future.

For individuals, downsizing usually has practical purposes, such as clearing out clutter, giving away items we no longer use so others can enjoy them, or, in the case of an impending move, making sure our belongings will fit into our new place.

What is right sizing for individuals? It’s the process of taking stock of our lives and seeing what changes we can make to align with the future we envision for ourselves. The true focus is on the lifestyle we want to have, rather than stuff we do have.

Using this rightsizing definition, you can see how the rightsizing process can benefit people of all ages, including seniors choosing to live at home instead of moving.

Benefits of Right Sizing for Seniors

Older adults who shed possessions they no longer need will feel lighter psychologically, as if a weight has been lifted. Reorganizing their home and streamlining their routines will help them (and their loved ones) feel better prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Seniors who move to a living space that’s better suited to their anticipated lifestyle will feel more satisfied. For instance, those who intend to spend a lot of time traveling or engaged in activities outside the home may prefer a smaller abode that serves as a place to rest and relax between trips or at the end of the day. A smaller living environment can also feel “just right” for couples and single adults.

Two Thoughts to Keep in Mind

It can be overwhelming to think about sorting through everything you’ve collected since your last move, especially if that last move was decades ago.

  • You don’t have to do it all at once. If you start now, you can whittle away a few items every day. The key, though, is to put the wheels in motion instead of waiting for life to push you into making decisions. That can limit your options.

  • You don’t have to do it alone. You can enlist the help of family and friends, or you can turn to professionals for assistance. There are businesses that specialize in working with seniors to make downsizing and moving a positive experience from start to finish. 

Right Sizing Simplified Into 5 Basic Steps

Step #1: Envision the Future You Want

This crucial first step creates the springboard you’ll need to get from where you are to where you want to be. Before you can evaluate what changes to make, you need to determine what you want the next chapter of your life to look like.

  • Do you want to travel more and explore other places and cultures?
  • Do you want to live closer to your children and grandchildren?
  • Do you want to develop new interests or resume old ones that fell by the wayside?
  • Do you want to volunteer or become more involved in your community?
  • Do you want to expand your social circle or reconnect with people from your past?
  • Do you want to continue your education? (It’s never too late to keep learning!)

These are the kinds of questions to ask yourself as you begin sketching the map to your future. Have a heart-to-heart conversation, or several, with family members and others who have a stake in seeing you achieve your future best life. Their support can be invaluable.

Step #2: Decide Whether to Stay Where You Are or Move

Once you’ve completed the first step, this next one should, in theory at least, be easier.

  • Can you accomplish what you want to do if you remain in your current home?
  • Do you want to remain where you are?
  • Would it be easier to do what you want if you lived elsewhere, even if it’s close to where you are now?
  • Are you ready for a change of scenery and a fresh start?
  • If you choose to stay in your current home, how easily could it be modified to accommodate your needs as you get older?
  • Will you be able to maintain your home in years to come or hire someone to do it for you?
Step #3: If You’ll Be Moving, Research Your Options

In some ways, figuring out where you want to move will be similar to previous moves you’ve made. For example, you’ll want take into account the proximity of your new home to the priorities you’ve identified in Step #1.

You’ll have additional considerations this time as well, such as making sure you’re prepared in case your health status changes in the years ahead. Choosing a Life Plan or Life Care community can provide precious peace of mind.

Timing is another factor to bear in mind. Putting off moving can limit your choices later, particularly if health issues arise in the years to come.

This step will take time and legwork, which is all the more reason to get started now!

Step #4: Begin the Culling and Decluttering Process

This step can make a tremendous difference, whether you move or stay where you currently live. If you’ve been in your home for even just a few years, you’ve more than likely accumulated things you don’t use or need.

Clearing these items out of your home can free up space you can put to better use, and someone else may be happy to have them. If you’ll be moving, there’s no point in taking a lot of stuff you won’t use or need in your new home.

As noted earlier, there are professionals who can make this step much easier. At Emerald Heights, we partner with two businesses that have years of experience assisting older adults with this task and more: Eliminate Chaos® and Moves Made Simple.    

Step #5: Follow Through — Do the Downsize!

You can sell, donate or discard belongings you don’t want to keep. If you have items with sentimental value or family heirlooms that take up space, think about passing them along to loved ones who will appreciate them — it’s easy to do this if friends and family members help you with Step #4.

If you hire professionals to assist you with Step #4, they can help you with this step, too.

How Much Home Do You Need?

The whole purpose of right sizing is to match your living environment to the lifestyle you’ve set as your goal.

Older adults who move typically choose a smaller home because there’s less to take care of. Many take it a step further and move to a community like Emerald Heights, where the staff handles repairs, maintenance and landscaping.

If you’re planning to move to a senior living community to take advantage of the social activities and other opportunities to enrich your lifestyle, consider how much time you’ll be in your home and how much space you’ll actually need.

A one-bedroom residence with or without a den could be just the right size, and you may be surprised to see how spacious our floor plans are at Emerald Heights.

Does the idea of living in a brand-new apartment appeal to you?

A few of our new Courtyard Apartments are still available, including the one-bedroom Butchart floor plan, which features a separate den and a powder room.

The Courtyard Apartments will be ready for move-in in spring of 2024. By placing a deposit on one before the end of 2023, you can avoid the increase in entrance fees next year. To learn more about our community, our Courtyard Apartments and how we can assist you with the rightsizing process, contact us or call 866-822-0916.

Featured Image: Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock