Tips on how to downsize

Downsizing is an inevitable part of moving house, but for older people it can be particularly difficult. Getting rid of items that have been acquired over a lifetime can be seen as letting go of more than throwing away a broken plate – it’s throwing away a memory.

According to the Social Readjustment Scale, only a spouse’s death or a divorce rank as more stressful than moving to a care home. So it is no wonder that sorting through all these items can often become overwhelming or even paralyzing. But there are some simple steps you can take to make it easier on yourself.


As with everything, planning is key. Make a rough drawing of the room or rooms you’ll be occupying. This will help you to be realistic about where everything will go, and whether you’ll be able to fit everything in that you want to take.

Think realistically

When it comes to downsizing, no matter where you’re moving to, it helps to be realistic. You might love your Christmas decorations – and you might have had them for years and years – but where will you store them? Will you even use them when you move into your new living space?

Think about who could have your items

When it comes to giving away items that might still be useful, many of us can be reluctant to give them to a charity shop, feeling that they will be neglected. These items can often be so closely associated with us and our identities, that it can be hard to think of them as going to waste.

Instead, why not think long and hard about who could make good use of it? Do you know someone, or does someone you know know someone who could? If in doubt, try asking on Facebook whether anyone would be interested in your stuff. That way, you know it’s going to a home that actually needs it and will treasure and cherish it, as well as make their own memories with that object. 

Rope in family members

Often, sorting through all your belongings can be tough physical work that may leave you exhausted. Enlisting friends and family to help can be an enormous help. You’ll be able to share memories with them – which can make the process a lot less painful.

If you do come across items that you desperately want to keep, but won’t have space for, you can often then give them to family members to store for you.

Go room-by-room

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Try to avoid tackling your entire house in a single sitting, as you will undoubtedly get overwhelmed by the sheer amount that needs to be done – if not emotionally, then definitely physically.

When considering your move, it may be better to think about it in terms of months, rather than days – especially when thinking about what still needs to be done.

Tackle one room at a time. Older adults should aim to have about two hours of activity before you need to rest.