Downsizing for a Move to Senior Living

Downsizing for a Move to Senior Living

Moving to senior living usually means moving to a smaller space. Most seniors are leaving a home they’ve lived in for decades, and the number of belongings they’ve accumulated through those years can be overwhelming. Beginning the moving process often means sorting through these items to decide which ones will be kept and which ones will have to go. These tips will walk you through how to approach downsizing and give you practical steps to get it done.

Have the Conversation

Make sure your loved one plays an active role in the process so that he or she doesn’t feel pressured to part with special mementos too quickly. Be aware of how difficult this may be. Show compassion and understanding when they need to slow down or take a break.

Use A Moving Notebook

You can track important phone numbers, notes about miscellaneous items, donation ideas, etc. This will help you keep everything organized in one spot.

Create a Floor Plan

Request floor plans with measurements from the senior living facility. Consider how your loved one’s furniture and decorative items will fit into space and determine what to keep and what not to keep. Keep track by labeling pieces with small, color-coded stickers of green (keep), red (don’t keep), and yellow (decide later).

One Room At A Time

Concentrate on one room at a time and sort clothing, books, dishes, etc. into piles: trash, sell, donate, or keep. Sorting does not mean packing. It means deciding the fate of each item. A sentimental reason to keep something is every bit as valid as a practical one.

Don’t Sort the Little Things

Don’t attempt to organize years of paperwork, photos, etc. Pack it all and go through it after the move. Keep the momentum and don’t be hindered by tedious sorting now.


Decide where to take your donations and check with them regarding their donation guidelines. Some charities will even pick up donated items. You might also consider having an estate sale to help clear out the home of unwanted items.


Label each box with a room and brief item description (i.e. kitchen/dishes) so that movers will know which room to put the box in the new place. Keep important items such as keys, cell phone, relevant contracts, first aid kit, and your notebook separate and accessible so they don’t get packed away.


Move, unpack, put things away, and set up the new place. Many people feel relieved after moving and are revitalized by their new surroundings. They often wish they’d made the transition a lot sooner.