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Aging Resources WNC

Downsizing Possessions to Simplify Your Life

Maybe your children are grown and living on their own and you find yourself with more house – and more possessions – than you need or want. Perhaps you want to trade your life in a multi-story house with a basement for one in a retirement community with one level and less upkeep. Or maybe you are thinking of moving to an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

Reducing the number of household items you own may better suit your needs at this stage in your life and there are many professionals and resources that can help with this transition.

Consider Hiring a Professional

Sorting through and getting rid of possessions – especially in a home where you’ve lived in for many years – can feel daunting particularly if you have a lot of household items of yours and your loved ones.

You may benefit from employing the services of professionals who specialize in sorting and organizing, managing paperwork and documentation, selling items through estate sales, coordinating the donation of possessions to charity and arranging packing and moving.

Professional organizers include Senior Move Managers who are members of the National Association of Senior & Specialty Move Managers. The organization has a searchable database of Senior Move Managers® at

Tips for Tackling Downsizing Tasks

To do some downsizing yourself, start by honestly evaluating what items you need and currently use in your life and think about what you really will need – or won’t – in your next living arrangement.

When considering what to do with items, categorize items as those to “keep,” “sell or donate,” “see if a family member wants” or “throw out.” Using color-coded stickers to indicate which category an item falls into or putting items into different designated piles also can help during the sorting process. Because it’s easy to become overwhelmed, pace yourself, enlist the help of friends and loved ones if possible and limit your sorting and purging sessions to no more than two hours at a time.

If you have possessions that you think friends and loved ones would like, invite them over to take items for themselves, perhaps at a “downsizing party.” Consider contacting local nonprofit thrift stores and other charities about your donations which may be tax-deductible. Many organizations will come to your home to pick up furniture and other household items that you want to give away as long as they are in good condition.

Areas to Start With Your Downsizing Include:

  • Getting rid of clothing and accessories you haven’t worn in years

  • Purging collections of books, magazines, CDs, albums, DVDs and VHS tapes

  • Clearing out multiple pieces of furniture, especially ones that are large and bulky.

  • Disposing of unused exercise equipment, tools, kitchen appliances and other devices

  • Weeding out holiday and other decorations

  • Passing on keepsakes, old photos and mementos to family members

  • Emptying off-site storage facilities

  • Going through paperwork, digitizing important documents and shredding files that are outdated or no longer needed

While the prospect of downsizing may be daunting at first, be encouraged that as an increasing number of older adults adopt a “less is more” lifestyle, there is more help available than ever with transitioning to your next home.

Aging Resources Magazine 2023-2024