5 Benefits of Downsizing for Seniors
People from all walks of life are recognizing the benefits of a simpler lifestyle. Millennials have popularized the concept of minimalism, businesses are forgoing office space in the name of simplicity and many seniors consider downsizing as their daily needs and desires change. Although it’s natural to grow accustomed to a certain way of life, downsizing holds many advantages.
The True Cost of Personal Items
We often end up accumulating more than we really need or even care about. This accumulation can create more stress than it’s worth, which is why many people are considering the time, energy and financial benefits of downsizing.
Time is a highly valuable commodity – the National Academy of Sciences found that people who pay for services that save them time report a higher satisfaction with life. When you accumulate things or property, such as a home, you need to devote time to maintaining those items.
Paying for maintenance or cleaning services can help you save some of that time and increase satisfaction, but downsizing provides even more direct time returns. If you reduce the number of things or property you own, you reduce the time and money you need to maintain those items.
Taking care of items and properties also costs mental and physical energy. Even if there is no pressing deadline for you to complete those house projects you know you should do, having them lurking in the corners of your mind can lead to feelings of guilt or frustration. Sometimes the act of clearing the way for new projects or passions is just as valuable as getting those old projects done.
A professional organizer estimates that for an average household, storing any type of item costs $15/square foot/year. The cost of your personal property is related to lost living space, storage fees (if necessary) and clean-out costs. Costs can also increase if you purchase services, as mentioned above, to save you maintenance time. Are the unused items in your home worth the time and money you need to store or maintain them?
Downsizing Benefits for Seniors
In addition to reducing the costs above, downsizing has several distinct advantages for older adults.
1. Invest Time in People
When you have fewer responsibilities for taking care of a home, vehicle or yard, you have more time to spend as you desire. A new pace of life can make room for new friends or for more time with your family. Many retired adults use that time to travel, visiting children or grandchildren who live out of town.
2. Put More Energy into Doing What You Love
Most of us have hobbies and interests that get pushed to the side because of all the responsibilities in our lives. Downsizing can help reduce those responsibilities, freeing you up to put more energy into activities you’re passionate about. Maybe there’s a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Or perhaps you’ve relegated one of your lifelong passions to a “once in a while” hobby. Making a change in your responsibilities could help you find more time and energy for those pursuits.
3. Spend Your Money on What’s Most Important to You
Maintaining a home costs approximately one percent of its value every year. That adds up — especially if your home or vehicle was primarily used for people other than yourself, such as children and grandchildren. Now that everyone is out of the house, you could be spending an outsized amount of money to maintain those things.
While they may have sentimental value to you, consider that it was the people who made them special. Your history with those people and the memories you made together won’t change. In many cases, downsizing will allow you to free up money to spend or save elsewhere, enabling you to spend more money on travel, new experiences or other passions you’ve always wanted to pursue.
4. Relieve Stress
Downsizing can be a huge stress reliever in the long run, although it often feels stressful to think of changing in the short term. If you are currently managing a home, a yard or a vehicle, you have countless details to remember and keep track of. Removing these responsibilities can improve your satisfaction in life and reduce the stress associated with managing so many variables.
5. Reduce Physical Strain
Housework, repairs, yard work and hauling groceries are time-consuming and tiring. Many older adults don’t want to put the strain on their body doing these types of chores and would rather pursue more engaging physical activities, such as golf or hiking. When you downsize and have fewer things to take care of then you can also reduce the physical strain on your body. Let your energy and strength be put into more rewarding activities than these physical demands by simplifying your responsibilities.
6. Keep Learning and Growing
Sometimes the greatest obstacle to downsizing is that we are unhappy about the idea of change. There is comfort in the familiar. But consider that change is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Downsizing can help you change your life in a positive way that frees up your time and energy for more enjoyable pursuits, including further education if that’s what you’re interested in. Take that class at the local college that you’ve been interested in,or sign up for a workshop from one of your favorite associations. Downsizing is an opportunity to learn and grow both formally and informally.
Assess What Matters Most
When considering whether and how to downsize, you’re also considering what’s most important to you and what you want your life to look like in the years ahead. For older adults that are at or nearing retirement, that’s often a welcome opportunity to refocus on the most meaningful aspects of life. Do you want to spend your time maintaining a large, full house? Or do you want to focus more on your family, friends and interests?
Live Simpler and Stronger at Concordia
One of the easiest and most effective ways to downsize is to move to a supportive living community. Supportive living communities, also known as retirement communities, are an opportunity to release the burden of homeownership, maintenance and many common chores.
Concordia is a great community option in Oklahoma City that allows residents to enjoy low-maintenance living. We’re a nonprofit community offering a variety of supportive living environments, including independent living that gives you all the freedom you’re used to with services and amenities designed to make your life easier. Contact us for more details on how we can help you downsize and refocus your life around what’s most important to you.