Downsizing: Tough decisions and new beginnings

 What do we keep? What do we give away? Who do we give it to?  These are all questions that come when it's time to downsize. Selling a home to move into a smaller living space is a decision many retirees are faced with today.  Downsizing is not a simple task because it not only involves finding a different home, it also means problem-solving the practical logistics of a move, and the emotional work of sorting through the personal belongings we accumulate over a lifetime.  Securing smaller quarters and reducing personal possessions is a process that can include multiple family members coming together to make decisions about the disposition of treasured belongings and mementos.

According to Catherine Lysack, PhD, an occupational therapist and the Deputy Director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State, these questions about keeping and getting rid of things resonate with older adults and their families.  The answers are often based in emotion because they involve personal evaluations of value and worth. Downsizing is therefore a very personal process that reflects who we are and what we envision for the future.  Dr. Lysack cautions, “While some items are easily given to charity and sold in yard sales the most cherished items require special placement—most often with family and friends.”

While the reasons for downsizing are many and varied for seniors here are 5 common triggering events:

  • Health reasons
  • Death of a spouse
  • Desire to live closer to family
  • Financial limitations
  • Desire for a new beginning

Downsizing is so much more than packing boxes and moving.  Demographic trends today highlight the fact that baby boomers are on the march to middle and older age.  The downsizing conversation is an important discussion to have with your financial planner and family members. To learn more about an upcoming educational event where Dr. Lysack will be the featured speaker contact me at