As people age, they often find themselves in an unnecessarily large home. A house with three spare bedrooms, a media room and a den can be nice, but most seniors do not need that much space. Mobility issues are common for seniors too and can be another reason they move to smaller homes.

In fact, this trend of moving to smaller homes is so common that it is often referred to with a nearly universally recognized term – “downsizing”.

Moving to a smaller home should be simple, but many seniors find the de-cluttering aspect overwhelming. Use this guide to help you decide what to keep and what to dispose of, as well as ideas on how to get rid of these items, when it is time for you to downsize.

The Emotional Impact of Downsizing

The idea of moving to a smaller home that is more comfortable and manageable for you should be uplifting. When you consider the fact that you will be able to put some extra cash away for a rainy day, or use the money to send your grandkids to college or go on an extravagant vacation, it is even easier.

What is problematic for many people is disposing of belongings that they worked hard to buy over the years. People know that possessions are just “stuff”, but it can be hard to watch those belongings disappear right before your eyes.

What you need to do is focus on the final outcome: your improved quality of life. More “stuff” does not equate with a better life. In fact, more belongings can mean more headaches when it comes to cleaning, staying organized and doing day-to-day tasks around your home.

You do not want to spend your days dusting tchotchkes, do you? Of course not! You want to be out there living life and doing things you enjoy.

What Do I Keep?

Downsizing does not mean getting rid of items you use on a regular basis. If you love to bake, do not part with your bread maker simply because it takes up space. You obviously should not dispose of belongings such as pieces of clothing you wear on a regular basis or useful furniture either.

Items with great emotional importance are things you will want to keep. The mug your child gave you for Mother’s or Father’s Day can continue to put a smile on your face for years to come. The coffee table which is a family heirloom should be packed for the move with your clothes and essentials. You will learn how to decide which possessions are important.

Items that you have not used in the last year, and cannot imagine using in the next year, would be ideal to let go of. Other “extra” belongings, such as the spare Christmas tree stand or the “probably dead” car battery, also need to go.

I Hate Throwing Items Away!

A lot of people hate throwing away items that they paid money for. Simply tossing these belongings in the trash seems both like a waste of money and environmentally irresponsible. There are many alternatives to putting possessions in the trash.

You could have a yard sale and use the money raised to help pay the movers. Donating items to charitable organizations can be a tax write-off, as well as keep good working products out of landfills. Family members might be able to use some of these items too, so remember to ask around.

Downsizing is an ideal option for many people, and belongings should not stand in your way. Whether you sell or donate items, or give them to family or friends, you can take everything that really matters to a smaller home.

You will likely find that having a more manageable home creates more time for all the exciting activities you really enjoy, just as many other seniors have already done.