Helping A Loved One Downsize In Their Senior Years

by Cindy Aldridge


The vast majority of seniors would prefer to age in place in their long-time home, but the reality of the matter is that that is not always what is best for them. Many seniors live in homes designed for families, which tend to be expensive, difficult to maintain and even sometimes dangerous.


Downsizing to a smaller place is a great way to make living at home more manageable while remaining independent, but there are a few important steps you will need to help your loved one with in order to achieve this.


Finding A New Home

Before anything else, you will need to find a new place. Some quick online research can give you an accurate idea of the price of a home in the right size and location. Remember to filter for single-story homes, as stairs can be a challenge for seniors with mobility issues.

Many people choose to move a senior loved one into a home closer to them so that they can benefit from the support of close family. However, in some cases, the senior will prefer to stay put. It is always important to take their feelings into consideration but to also think about what is best for them. This can be a difficult situation, but AgingCare has an excellent guide covering all the things you need to consider before having the conversation.


Cutting Down On Belongings

One of the biggest fears seniors have about downsizing is undergoing the process of removing many of their sentimental objects that they have accumulated over a lifetime. This is understandable - decluttering is difficult for most of us. However, if a senior loved one is being particularly difficult in parting with their belongings, be understanding. Remember that they may feel like they are their only connection to friends and family members they don’t get to see much of now. If all else fails, remind them of the burden they may be placing on their loved ones to sort through everything after they are gone.


Making The Move Go Smoothly

Moving is always stressful, but this particular move is fraught with even more logistical and emotional challenges. Stay organized with a detailed moving checklist can minimize stress and confusion, so print out copies for both you and your loved one. Alternatively, you may consider hiring a senior move manager to coordinate the entire process. This can be an expensive option (costing over $5,000 for large homes), but it is an excellent one if you don’t have the time to manage everything. Another option is to hire an organizer to help with downsizing (hiring a professional organizer around Denver will run you $192 - $900).


Your elderly relative is probably not up for the hard manual labor involved in carrying all those boxes and furniture, so make sure they have plenty of help. This can mean getting family members to pitch in on moving day or hiring a team of professional movers to do the heavy lifting. If you are part of the moving team, make sure you are being safe. The last thing anyone needs is an injury.


Downsizing clears out the clutter from a senior’s life, freeing them up to truly enjoy their golden years. However, this can be a big change in their lives and it is common to see them dragging their feet throughout the process. If you notice this happening, ask them exactly what they are scared of and do your best to mitigate these fears. The most important thing is maintaining open and honest communication. Whether you choose to manage the move or hire someone else to do it, you should remain supportive, and available for advice.

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