Downsizing Can Be a Game-Changer for 55+ Adults and Retirees
There has been a huge growth in 55+ communities nationwide. Independent living centers allow seniors to remain in a home with less cost but with available resources nearby for even older adults. Downsizing can be emotionally tough but benefits everyone.
Many people over age 50 start to think about the advantages of downsizing their homes. Once retired, the costs and energy to maintain larger homes might become too much. Fewer expenses mean more money in retirement. Smaller space to maintain is easier as you get older.
Fifty-one percent of retirees downsize to rid themselves of the worries of maintaining a large house and for a sense of financial freedom. But, moving to a new home is not the only way to scale back. A "downsized" way of living can also be liberating, allowing you to enjoy other aspects of your golden years.
If you are retiring, there are five essential questions to ask about where you might live.
Selling the family home is a common choice for retirees that provides many benefits. They use the proceeds to free up cash from the equity, which they can use to reinvest in another home or other assets. It is also a welcome addition to any income they're receiving.
Another benefit from the sale is the possibility of paying off debt. It may not completely clear out your liabilities, but lower monthly payments will be a great relief.
Aside from financial freedom, moving may be necessary because of health and mobility issues. A home that has accessibility features will allow retirees to continue living independently.
Lifestyle changes can also lead to the decision to sell or move. Enjoying retirement may mean living in another environment or traveling a lot.
Let Go of Possessions
Decluttering is another way to downsize. Decluttering is essential if you are moving to a smaller space, but it is just as important even if you decide to retire in the family home. Families gain a lot of stuff through the years. Once you have retired, you will realize there are many things you no longer use or wear. Be honest with yourself and figure out which ones you need, love, and use. Sell, give, or donate any item that does not fall under these categories. Resist the temptation to keep them just because you may need them later.
It is natural that you are looking forward to a stress-free retirement. You have dedicated the bulk of your adult life to responsibilities related to work and raising a family. There may be some commitments you continue to engage in simply because you have been used to doing it.
Being social is always important at any stage of life, but being involved in too many things when we get older can become stressful and stretch us too thin. If any of your engagements no longer hold your interest or you do not look forward to them anymore, it is time to step back. Choose with intention and devote your free time to activities you genuinely love doing.
Downsizing is not just a smaller home, fewer possessions, or lesser obligations. It is a frame of mind that enables you to understand what is most important in your new life as a retiree. Retirement is not your identity; instead, it is a phase you go through that gives you a new outlook on using your money and time. A fulfilling retirement will depend on how you use these. To paraphrase Marie Kondo, spend your money and time on those that spark joy in you.
Life Changes Over Time
Downsizing can be a stressful and painful process for many seniors. Downsizing comes with strong emotional baggage. If an older adult has physical limitations or medical issues, being 'forced' to downsize adds a level of depression for many people.
Some seniors have no one nearby to help them in this process as their adult children may be living elsewhere. When they must say goodbye to a home that is filled with memories, it is like saying goodbye to their lives. When they must do this alone or with little or no support, it is worse.
Even departing with treasured possessions can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Often they think they are the 'keepers' of their family heirlooms. Getting rid of these items is hard, and without family support, they don't know how their loved ones feel about them.
Downsizing can make an older adult safer and better able to remain independent in their home instead of moving to a long-term care facility. As their health declines and they need more assistance, a less cluttered, smaller home allows them to navigate their home safely and help caregivers provide the assistance they need.
Most seniors report they are happier once they have downsized and have a smaller home to keep clean and live in. Whether they live nearby or across the country, family members will have more peace of mind knowing their loved one is safer and happier.
Independent senior living facilities offer the independence of having their own apartment or condo but still have nearby help and resources, including social activities close by.
Smaller homes cost less to maintain, so there is more money to use for other things like travel or entertainment. If the person does not have Long-Term Care Insurance, the extra funds can be used to pay for quality in-home caregivers as they become necessary.
Be not afraid to downsize or encourage your parents to do so. Many adults start thinking of downsizing in their 50s after their kids get out of the house. There are many 55+ communities nationwide that offer the amenities people want without the regular maintenance and high costs of keeping a larger home.
Preparing for Costs and Burdens of Aging
Being prepared for aging happens, ideally, before you get old. This preparation includes saving for retirement and protecting your retirement assets from the costs and burdens of aging and declining health. This includes adding Long-Term Care Insurance to their retirement plan for many families.
The consequences of getting older affect family and finances. Being prepared will ease the stress and burdens that come with aging.
About the Author
Sally Phillips is a freelance writer with many years’ experience across many different areas. She enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.
Contributor since November 4th, 2017
Being prepared for future declining health and aging has never been more critical than right now. Long-term health care costs are skyrocketing due to increasing demand, labor shortages, and high labor costs.
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Seek Professional Guidance
Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, insurance companies' premiums vary over 100% for the same coverage.
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Finding Quality Care for Mom or Dad
Start by reading our four guides -
If they are lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
Get Help in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim
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Benefits of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement.
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