As Americans start to live longer, well, they're getting older. According to the Washington Post, Americans over 65 make up 15 percent of the current population. That number is projected to rise to 24 percent by 2060. But living longer also requires some strategic planning. Chances are that 5,000-square-foot dream home — not to mention the boat and garage full of toys — won’t seem so practical during your golden years. That’s why more seniors are decluttering and downsizing.
Timing is everything
The term “senior” spans several decades, so how do you know it’s time to downsize? According to Marilyn Walsh, director of marketing and public relations at Baptist Homes Society, the decision is entirely personal.
“There are many ‘triggers’ that can cause the need or desire to downsize,” Walsh said. “A decline in health or mobility is often cited as the reason that older adults begin looking at downsizing. It can just be a realization that you’d rather enjoy your life traveling, going to the theatre or exploring your hobbies instead of wasting time shoveling snow, cleaning gutters and mowing lawns. Downsizing makes life simpler and easier.”
If there’s one thing you don’t want to do once you’ve finally reached that storied retirement, it’s spending your free time sorting through a garage full of boxes or a basement of memories. If you plan to downsize when you retire (and many retirees are choosing to do just that), make the process easier by starting earlier. Save those items most important to you and your family, and toss the rest. Old clothing, Christmas decorations you don’t use and long outdated files and documents won’t be conducive to simple living.
“Often, people who have lived in their homes for 40 or 50 years have simply accumulated stuff,” Walsh said. “It is not things they need, use or want. It gathers dust, takes up lots of space and can even create anxiety. Downsizing can provide a new sense of freedom and help you regain control of your life.”
Decluttering requires you to make priorities about what’s most important to you. That’s a key aspect of downsizing. Before you begin, you’ll want to consider the kind of lifestyle you want for retirement. If you want to be active and social, you might look at a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) rather than simply a smaller home.
“As you determine what you want to do in your retirement and where you want to live, it’s the perfect time to take stock of the things that are important to you,” Walsh said. “Providence Point offers several resources for those looking for assistance with downsizing, including a workbook, seminars and a list of move specialists and organizers.”
Supersizing your lifestyle
When looking to downsize, many seniors opt for a CCRC, also known as a Life Plan Community. While a CCRC provides a simpler, easier way of living, it may actually “supersize” your access to physical activities, social environments and health care resources.
“Although our CCRC has spacious apartments and patio homes (ranging from 888 to close to 4,000 square feet), most people are downsizing and simplifying their personal living space,” Walsh explained. “However, at the same time, they are gaining about 30,000 square feet of active living space. There’s a surround-sound theater, spa, pool and fitness center, four dining venues, meeting space, bocce court and art studio, plus staff that is available to support them. The clutter is replaced by a very functional space, and countless amenities are now at their fingertips.”
For more information on Providence Point, visit www.providencepoint.org.
This article is sponsored by Providence Point.
A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen Price has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.