Downsizing is never an easy task for seniors. For an older adult, having to downsize is a tacit admission that circumstances have changed and they need help with activities of daily living. It’s often with great reluctance that seniors look on downsizing, or they avoid it altogether. Going through the belongings of a lifetime brings up lots of memories, which makes it very hard to part with them. A nostalgic attitude is a bad way to approach downsizing; people tend to hang onto possessions to avoid having to cope with the fear and stress of relocating and beginning a new life. Those who approach it systematically are often able to counteract the feelings of sadness and nostalgia that get in the way of making difficult decisions.
Don’t Try It in One Gulp
It’s a good idea to get an early start on downsizing because you don’t want to have to rush and do it all in a couple of days. Trying to get through it all in one big push can make an emotionally stressful experience much worse. Where downsizing a senior’s home is concerned, the best timeline is one that plays out over weeks and months, not days. Knock out one room at a time, working in two-hour stretches to make it as easy as possible for an older relative. And avoid starting on a large-sized space with lots of belongings, which can be discouraging. Instead, begin in a low-impact part of the house, such as the laundry room or linen closet. Anything you can do to make downsizing a low-key, physically undemanding experience, the easier it’ll be.
Finding the Right Home
Once your parents determine where they want to live, do some online research to get a feel for home prices in that area. As you search, bear in mind any mobility issues your parents may have and try to find a property that meets those needs, or which could be modified to meet them. Also, consider whether your parents should live somewhere close to their healthcare providers, and think about any amenities they might need.
Carefully research moving companies, and pay close attention to customer feedback. Remember, the more stuff you can downsize, the less you’ll end up paying a mover. What’s more, it’s less you’ll have to unpack and store all over again.
Downsize Based on New Space
There’s not much sense in taking three bedrooms’ worth of stuff to a new home if there are only two bedrooms to put it all in, so be careful to downsize with your new home’s square footage and storage space in mind. If possible, go through the new space ahead of time and mark out specific areas for some of your larger objects, such as couches, coffee tables, and chairs.
Handle It Once
Agree with your parents to handle each item only once before deciding whether to keep it, give it away, or recycle it. Older adults who handle objects more than once are much more likely to think emotionally rather than objectively. That means your downsizing project probably won’t get very far. One good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything that hasn’t been used within the past year, and definitely give or throw away any duplicate items.
Remember that you can turn some of your parents’ old belongings into cash by selling