Downsizing a home is an exhausting process for both seniors and caregivers. It can be physically and emotionally draining to go through a house and decide what to keep, donate, or discard.
As a caregiver, how can you guide your senior loved one through the process of downsizing?
First, know that downsizing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The right approach can help seniors and caregivers downsize to a smaller home with minimal stress. The key is to make a plan and give it plenty of time.
7 Ways You Can Assist a Senior Who is Downsizing
1. Start downsizing early.
Even if your loved one will not move for months or even years, it is never too soon to start the process of downsizing. Allow yourself and your loved one to downsize at an easier pace without rushing.
2. Get the layout of the new home.
If your elderly loved one is moving to a new residence, consider the number of bedrooms, available storage, and if your senior loved one will have a pet in their new home. Take measurements of the rooms or look at a floor plan so you know what furniture will fit in their new living space. Most senior living communities, like Governor's Village, will help with this task.
3. Set goals for downsizing.
Once you know how much your aging loved one can keep, you should set a goal for the downsizing process. Your elder loved one should consider what they want their life to look like and which possessions will help them live that life.
4. Take it one room at a time.
Go room by room when sorting through your loved one’s things. This will help prevent the whole house from getting messy and will help you complete the task in manageable chunks.
5. Keep memories without keeping items.
If your loved one has items that are sentimental but not very practical, take pictures of things before donating, selling, or throwing them away. Organize photographs and other paper items, such as cards or letters, into albums and scrapbooks. Your loved one can revisit the memory any time without the item taking up space in the home.
6. Have adult children go through their own belongings.
If adult children have been keeping items at an elder’s home, ask them to go through their items and decide what they want to keep or get rid of. This way, your senior loved one will not have to decide what to do with other people’s things.
If your loved one is willing, they also can bequeath items early. This will keep the items from taking up space and ensure that they go to the person your loved one chooses.
7. Be patient in the process.
Caregivers and family members especially should be patient and recognize the difficulties of downsizing. Allow your loved one to take a break when necessary and realize that the process may take longer than expected.
Avoid arguing with your loved one over what to do with their items. Be kind and gentle if you must try to persuade them to give up something.
Living options for seniors who want to downsize.
If your senior loved one’s house is too much to manage, contact the staff at Randall Residence to learn about our different living options for senior care.