Tips for Seniors Downsizing to a Smaller Space

August 01, 2016 | Blog | Reading Time 4:00 Minutes

Taking inventory of one’s belongings is an inevitable part of every move, but for a senior who’s moving to a new, smaller residence, it can be especially overwhelming. It can be daunting to let go of possessions gathered over a lifetime, but it can also be freeing. The result can be a much lighter load, fewer chores, and better overall well-being in a hospitality-focused residence.


Whether the move is cross-town or cross-country, it’s normal for it to be a high-stress life event, both physically and emotionally. All of the organizing, packing, discarding, cleaning, paperwork, and other tasks associated with the move can be challenging for everyone involved. Here are some tips to help make moving into a senior living community as easy and efficient as possible.


Before you start packing for a senior living community lifestyle, keep this in mind:

Along the way, make the experience as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Take breaks. Enjoy a cup of tea before, after, or as you sort, pack, or unpack. Ask a friend or family member to help you or keep you company. Limit your sorting and packing activities to 2 hours a day (except for moving day).


See below for a checklist of ideas and tips that can make your moving experience more enjoyable:

Plan Ahead

  • Start the moving conversation with family as early as possible. If you can, begin to declutter a few months before moving day.
  • Shred, toss, or give away items that you obviously no longer need. Gather all of your important paperwork (deeds, wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, medical records, military records, diplomas and degrees, birth certificates, passports, etc.); keep them in a safe location like a filing cabinet or safe-deposit box and let close friends or family members know where they are.
  • Have family members come claim their keepsakes.
  • Make plans for your pets.
  • Refill prescriptions in advance, so you don’t have to worry about them during the move.

Get Organized

  • Get a new notebook just for the move and record all the details—from things you might forget later, questions about your new residence, schedules and appointments—to funny anecdotes and stories you remember along the way.
  • Get estimates from moving companies, if necessary. Set a moving date and confirm it with your new residence manager.
  • Get the floor plan for you new residence, measure your furniture, and start laying out where things will go. If finances allow, consider hiring a move manager.
  • Prepare for address changes with the post office, your banks, attorney, accountant, insurance agent, investment and retirement accounts, Medicare and Social Security, voter’s registration, family and friends, driver’s license and car registration, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, social clubs and places of worship. Call your utility providers (gas and electric, for example) about changing or closing your services.

Sorting, Packing, and Discarding

  • Go through one room at a time, and divide your belongings into 4 categories: definitely keep, possibly keep, donate, and discard. Use colored stickers or tags to illustrate these categories.
  • Take photos or videos of items that have sentimental value but aren’t going to move with you. Engage friends, family, charities that pick up, auction houses, and moving specialists to help with packing, discarding, and donating, as these steps can be labor intensive.
  • Ensure all boxes are properly labeled by space or area in your new residence. Make a list and take inventory of your boxes. Designate and label certain boxes as “open first” or “important” for transporting key items.
  • Pack a suitcase with everything you’ll need for a couple of days during the move. Secure valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Moving Day

  • Make sure you have a written contract with your mover, and a plan for how to handle lost or damaged items. Confirm the time of the movers’ arrival at the old residence and the new; make sure your new residence manager knows the approximate time your movers will arrive.
  • Have someone assigned to meet the movers at the old and new residences. Make sure the person meeting the movers at the new residence has a key.

Settling In

  • Prepare to spend a few days unpacking and organizing. Ask someone to help or keep you company as you do this. Adjusting to your new surroundings can take days, weeks, or months, but you will feel so much better and lighter once it’s all finished and you’re officially all moved in. Welcome home!


At Gable Pines, located in beautiful Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, our team understands that the process of transitioning into a new community can be difficult, and we have the commodities and resources available to make the move as smooth and easy as possible.

For more information regarding the services and accommodations at Gable Pines, visit our Contact Us page or call 651-433-6175.


Sources: A Place for Mom and

A Place for Mom: