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How to Help Your Senior Parents Downsize

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A smiling senior man and his daughter carrying cardboard boxes.

Helping senior parents downsize or prepare for a move to a personal care community can be difficult, but it can also be extremely rewarding. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy, patience, and a plan to help make things easier all around. Many older adults have years of treasured memories and belongings, and it could take some time to decide what to bring and what to leave behind.

Some of our tips for helping senior parents downsize include the following:

  • Start simple and make a plan
  • Give yourself plenty of time
  • Prepare to sort everything properly
  • Be realistic when packing

These tips are based on helping you navigate the situation with a well-rounded approach and can make things easier for your parents as they prepare to move to a senior living community.

Start Simple & Make a Plan

Before you do anything, there’s an important step to take: visit your parents’ new residence and make a plan based on the layout. Be sure to confirm whether or not the unit is furnished and take measurements to start imagining how you and your parents are going to organize the space. If possible, try to grab a floor plan to take home!

When you make a plan for what to help your parents bring, think about furniture, decorations, layout, and more. Don’t forget to keep your parents involved with all the decision-making—it’s going to be their future home, after all.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

When you look at the picture as a whole, downsizing can seem daunting at first. It’s definitely a task that shouldn’t be rushed by any means. That’s why it’s so important to start early.

Give yourself and your parents plenty of time—months if possible. This can help you avoid stressful situations or feeling like you’re running out the clock. Instead, you’ll have time to make considerate decisions and support your parents properly.

Try to build a schedule for each room. As you’re helping pack up your parents’ home, you might be distracted by the occasional moment of reminiscing. You may want time to cherish those moments and enjoy the stories about your parents’ lives. 

Remember that downsizing can be an emotional experience, and by allotting extra time, you can enjoy the process and learn more about your parents as you help them.

Prepare to Sort Everything Properly

When you’re sorting through a lifetime’s worth of possessions, it’s often overwhelming at times. Encourage your parents to sort their possessions into a few groups, like:

  • Things to keep: Put everything important here, from their favorite coffee mug to essential documents.
  • Things to donate: Put old clothes, worn-down furniture, older tools, and similar items here.
  • Things to sell: This group can be ideal for old collections, valuables that no longer serve a purpose, or furniture that could turn a profit.
  • Things to discard: Anything cracked, damaged, or broken should go in this pile.

Try to apply your organization plan on a room-to-room basis. It can make downsizing a lot more manageable, help your parents prioritize the things that truly matter, and help them determine what they’re ready to let go of. 

Don’t forget to be supportive! It can be hard to let go of something you’ve held onto over the years, so give your parents some leeway.

Be Realistic when Packing

It’s important to be realistic when packing. After all, you aren’t just packing up a home—you’re trying to downsize significantly so your parents’ belongings are going to fit in a smaller space. That’s when it’s time to start asking the important questions.

Do they actually need 2 couches, or will 1 be okay? How many lamps are going along? How much storage space do they have and will it limit collections or dishware? If there isn’t going to be enough space for something—no matter how well you organize the items—it’s time to make some decisions.

Try to start by focusing on what’s practical. Remember to focus on storage space, accessibility, and safety. Your parents’ new home might be cramped if they bring everything they’ve ever owned. Instead, remind them of the limited space, but be supportive.

Downsizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything they own. Instead, think about it like focusing on the things that are truly important while letting go of unnecessary belongings.

Grandchildren joyfully visiting their grandparents and enjoying cakes and donuts together.

Don’t Forget to Visit!

Once the move is complete, there’s one final step: don’t forget to visit! Your parents might need some time to adjust to their new home and finish setting it up how they want, so make sure you come back regularly to say hello and help out.

Our team at Bellevue Village at Neese Road understands that this can be an emotional journey, and we’re here for you and your family. We’d love to help ease your parent’s transition into our community. So contact us today, and together, we can help you give your parents a place that feels like home.

Written by admin

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