Coping with the Emotions of Downsizing

Senior Man Packing Boxes

Many older adults find themselves coping with the emotions of downsizing, these emotions may include anxiety, stress, and sadness. Take time to speak with a counselor and work through your emotions. Not so that you won’t feel the way do, but so you can understand why.

Reasons You May Feel Sad

Moving from a big house to a smaller house, an apartment, or into a relative’s home, can be a good solution for many older adults. Whether the shift is due to health concerns or financial constraints, know that a good decision can also come with feelings of sadness.

Sometimes individuals or couples who are downsizing grieve over moving because they are emotionally attached to the memories made in their homes. This can be exacerbated if there is a neighborhood community full of friends and long-term neighbors.

In other circumstances, coping with the emotions of downsizing is related to having to let go of belongings. In the process of donating furniture, mementos, and daily living items accrued over decades, it is common to feel a sense of loss. Saying goodbye to a life you have built can be painful at any age.

Focus On Your New Home

Feeling upset about leaving a neighborhood is normal, but for your own health, it’s important to become involved in your new community and home.

Make your new home as comfortable and cheery as you can. Don’t worry about keeping all of your belongings, simply keep the ones that bring you joy and are practical for your new home. You don’t have to be the keeper of family items for your entire life either. Give them the items now, while you are downsizing.

From there, learn about ways to be involved in your new neighborhood. Volunteering or joining a group that meets weekly to pursue a hobby are great ways to connect and make new friends. And if your first volunteer shift or club isn’t a good match, don’t sweat it. Simply shift and choose another route, there are new friendships to be made, you just have to find them.

Planning Your Move While Coping with the Emotions of Downsizing

Deciding what to keep and what to donate, packing up your home, and taking care of all the paperwork surrounding a move can be stressful. If your move is happening in tandem with shifts in your family, for example, if you are moving into your child’s home, be sure to take advantage of all the family help you can. If family isn’t available, consider hiring help. There are many organizations that help with downsizing.

It’s ok to feel sad, but there are benefits of downsizing to focus on as well. A smaller home means less work on home upkeep. And remember, every life change comes with adjustments. An end to one period of life is the beginning of another. Talk through the frustrations you are feeling and look forward to your new home with positivity and interest.

About the Author

Kendall VanBlarcom

I’m Kendall Van Blarcom, the founder of Van Blarcom Consulting. For over 25 years, I have provided personal consulting and counseling to over 1,000 clients around the world.

I am a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT) based in California. I have decades of consulting experience and a genuine desire to help my clients.



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