Downsizing Tips for Seniors Starting a New Chapter in LifeSkip to content

A Senior's Guide to Moving and Downsizing

Published: Dec 30, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

Moving can be a daunting task for anyone but especially for seniors who may have been living in the same home for decades. These changes can make it difficult to live in a home that is not designed with your needs in mind. That's why it's so important to consider accessibility and functionality when designing a new home for a loved one. After all, downsizing and moving can also provide an opportunity for retirees to simplify their lives and start fresh in new surroundings with new experiences.

Design Tips for A New Home

Bodies naturally go through changes that can impact mobility and ability to perform everyday tasks as you get older. This is why it's so important to design a home that is easily accessible for seniors with mobility issues. Some features to consider include:

Wide Doorways and Hallways

Make sure all doorways and hallways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids. Wide, open spaces, with access to daylight can also improve the mental well-being of seniors because they create a feeling of comfort and safety.

Step-Free Entrances

To make it easier to move in and out of your home, consider installing a ramp or step-free entrance. This will ensure that your elderly loved one can access the home safely and easily.

Grab Bars and Railing

Grab bars are essential for seniors who need extra stability when getting in and out of the shower or on and off the toilet. Look for grab bars that are ADA compliant, meaning they meet all government regulations for usability and durability. Installing secure railings both inside and outside the home can also help seniors maintain their balance.

Lever Handles

Lever handles on doors and other fixtures are much easier for seniors to use, as they don’t require a tight grip or twisting of the wrist. Installing lever handles throughout the home can make it easier for seniors to move around without assistance.

Non-Slip Flooring

Provide a safe walking surface with non-slip flooring that won't create additional hazards if someone falls. This can be especially important in bathrooms and kitchens, where there is often more water on the floor.

Single-Story, Open-Space Living

Many seniors opt for single-story living to avoid the hassle of stairs. An open-plan layout can also provide a feeling of spaciousness and ease of movement. Consider installing large windows and skylights to let in natural light, which can help create a tranquil atmosphere.

Ideas for Maximizing Storage and Organization

Having a cluttered and disorganized home can be overwhelming and stressful for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for seniors who may have limited mobility or vision. To make the home more functional and enjoyable for your loved one, consider implementing some of these storage and organization ideas:

Built-In Shelving and Cabinets

Built-in shelving and cabinets will provide additional storage without taking up too much space. This is a great idea for bathrooms, pantries, and closets.

Wall-Mounted Organizers

Mounting wall organizers in the kitchen or bathroom can help keep items off countertops, but still within reach. It's also a good idea to label containers or drawers so that it's easier for seniors to find what they need.

Hooks and Racks

Hooks and racks are great for storing items like hats, coats, and bags in the entryway or mudroom. This will help create a neat, clutter-free space for your elderly loved one.

Multi-Functional Furniture

Choose furniture with multiple that doubles as a storage unit or an ottoman that can store blankets and other items inside. This type of furniture is perfect for maximizing space in small apartments or homes.

Under-Shelf Baskets

Installing under-shelf baskets can be a great way to make use of unused vertical space in the kitchen or pantry. This is also an easy and inexpensive way to help seniors organize items like spices and canned goods.

Light-Colored Paint

Using light colors on walls and cabinets can help create an airy atmosphere and make a room appear larger. This will also make it easier for seniors to find items that may be tucked away in cabinets or drawers.

Making a few simple changes to the home can help your elderly loved one maintain their independence, safety, and comfort. By considering these ideas, you can make sure that your senior family member is living in the best possible environment.

Suggestions for Choosing Furniture and Layout to Accommodate Changing Needs

As a senior's needs and abilities change over time, it's important to choose furniture and layout that can adapt to these changes. Some things to consider when choosing furniture for a senior's home include:


Choose furniture that is comfortable and supportive, with armrests, non-slip cushions, and adjustable seating.


Make sure furniture is at a comfortable height for a senior to sit in or reach items from. This may mean choosing lower-height sofas and tables, or using risers or blocks to raise the height of chairs or beds.


Choose furniture that is easy to move or rearrange if necessary. This will allow your loved one to make changes to the layout of their home as their needs change.


Consider choosing furniture that serves multiple purposes. For example, a storage ottoman can be used for seating and storage, and a futon can serve as both a sofa and a bed.

7 Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Moving can be a challenging and overwhelming experience at any age, but for seniors, it can be especially difficult. Downsizing can be a necessary part of the moving process for seniors, and it's important to approach it in a thoughtful and organized way. Here are 7 tips for downsizing as a senior and making the move as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Start Early and Be Prepared

Begin the downsizing process at least a few months in advance of your move so that you have plenty of time to go through all of your belongings. Have necessary supplies like packing tape, boxes, and labels on hand for organizing items as you sort through them.

Set Priorities

Before you start packing, make a list of your priorities. Do you want to keep certain items because they hold sentimental value? Are there things that need to be donated or sold? Setting your priorities ahead of time will help make the downsizing process easier and more efficient.

Create a Floor Plan

Creating a floor plan for your new residence can help you decide what items will fit and be useful in your new home. If there are certain pieces of furniture that won’t fit, start looking into selling them before the move so they don't take up space in your new place.

Think Outside the Box

If you have large family heirlooms or collections that you don’t want to part with, consider creative ways of displaying them. For example, you can turn a collection of books into art by creating a unique bookcase display or a collage wall in your new home.

Seek Help from Family and Friends

The downsizing process can be challenging and emotional, so seeking help from family and friends can make the task easier. Have them come over to lend a hand and offer moral support as you sort through your belongings.

Keep Important Documents Nearby

Make sure important documents like birth certificates, wills, passports, bank statements, insurance policies, and medical records are easily accessible throughout the move. If possible, keep these items in a secure and waterproof container.

Don’t Rush

The downsizing process doesn't have to be done in one day; take your time going through each item and deciding what to keep, donate, or sell. Remember that the goal is to make your new home comfortable and clutter-free while also preserving sentimental items that have meaning to you.

Benefits of Downsizing for Seniors

There are many benefits to downsizing for seniors. One of the most obvious is the reduced cost of maintaining a smaller home. This can be especially important for seniors on a fixed income or those who are looking to free up some extra money for retirement or other expenses.

In addition to financial benefits, downsizing can also help seniors reduce the amount of clutter and unnecessary possessions they have to manage. This can make daily life easier and more manageable, as well as reduce the risk of accidents or injuries caused by tripping over clutter or trying to lift heavy items. Downsizing can also be a great opportunity for seniors to simplify their lives. This can be a cathartic experience that helps seniors feel more organized and in control of their surroundings.

Strategies for Deciding What to Keep and What to Let Go

One of the biggest challenges of downsizing is deciding what to keep and what to let go. Here are some strategies that can help make this process easier:

  • Start by making a list of the items you absolutely need and use regularly. These are the items that should be a priority when deciding what to keep.
  • Consider the sentimental value of items. If an item has a lot of sentimental value but no practical use, consider finding a way to display it prominently in your new home rather than packing it away in storage.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. It can be difficult to let go of certain items, especially if they have a lot of sentimental value. If you're having trouble deciding what to keep and what to let go, consider asking a trusted friend or family member for their opinion.
  • Consider the practicality of items. If you're moving to a smaller home, you may not have room for larger items like furniture or appliances. Be realistic about what will fit in your new space and what you'll need to let go of.

Ideas for Organizing and Packing Belongings for the Move

Once you've decided what to keep, it's important to start organizing and packing your belongings in a way that will make the move as smooth as possible. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Use clear storage bins to pack smaller items. This will make it easier to see what's inside and find items quickly once you're settled in your new home.
  • Label boxes with a detailed inventory of what's inside. This will make it easier to find items once you're settled in your new home and will also be helpful for the movers.
  • Consider hiring a professional organizer to help you pack and organize your belongings. This can be especially helpful if you have a lot of stuff and are feeling overwhelmed.

Options for Disposing of Items That Are Not Being Kept

Once you've decided what to let go of, it's important to figure out how to dispose of those items. Here are some options to consider:

  • Donate items to a thrift store or charitable organization. This is a great way to give back and help those in need while also decluttering your home.
  • Sell items through a garage sale or online marketplace. This can help you earn some extra money and declutter your home at the same time.
  • Recycle or dispose of items responsibly. Depending on the type of item, you may be able to recycle it or bring it to a hazardous waste disposal facility.
  • Give items to family or friends. This can be a great way to pass on items that you no longer need while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy something that was once special to you.

Resources for Helping Seniors Move

Downsizing can be a stressful and overwhelming process, so it's important to know where to turn for help. Here are some resources that can make the process easier:

Professional Moving Company

These companies often have experience working with older adults and are equipped to handle the unique challenges that come with senior moving. They may offer services like packing and unpacking, disassembling and reassembling furniture, and organizing items in the new home.

Senior Relocation Services

These companies offer a range of services to help seniors with the moving process, including downsizing, organizing, and packing. Some even offer in-home consultations to help seniors plan and prepare for the move. Senior relocation services can be a great resource for seniors who may need extra help with the physical aspects of moving or who want someone to guide them through the process.

Support of Family and Friends

Many hands make light work, and having help with tasks like packing and lifting can make the move much easier. It's also a good idea to have a trusted family member or friend on hand to help with decision-making and to provide emotional support during this potentially stressful time.

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About the Author

Ericka Nicolas

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Ericka Nicolas began her career in the banking industry where she learned the importance of being detail-oriented and well-organized, both of which she applies to her current work as a writer and proofreader. With her vast experience in writing, Ericka is able to produce well-researched and engaging content that appeals to Elderguide's target audience. She was able to provide readers with valuable insights on a variety of topics and ensures that all the information she provides is accurate and up-to-date. She takes the time to carefully study each topic given to her, which allows her to produce truly informative articles. Ericka's passion for writing and her dedication to producing quality content gave way to her goal of helping our readers navigate the complex world of senior living and make informed decisions about their future. Aside from her work at Elderguide, Ericka enjoys spending time with her newly-married husband and their dog, Yari. She loves cooking, traveling, and exploring new restaurants in her spare time.