Helping Your Senior Parents Downsize


Downsizing is often a lot easier in theory than it is in practice; especially for seniors. Many adult children find themselves wanting to help their parents make the transition into a more simplified way of living, but it’s hard to know where to start.


If your parents are facing a possible downsize, here are a few things to keep in mind to help the process run smoothly.



Effects of Downsizing


Research has shown that there are many different goals that people want to accomplish by downsizing:


1)    Getting increased life/medical care

2)    Being closer to grandchildren

3)    Having a smaller monthly living expense

4)    Providing enough bedrooms for guests

5)    Living an easier/better quality of life

6)    Not having to walk up stairs or face other mobility challenges


            Of course, each individual or couple will have their own unique set of reasons and goals. Talk to your parents about what they specifically hope to accomplish by downsizing. If the list is quite long, help them decide which items are most important and which they’re willing to compromise on if necessary.



Increased Medical/Life Care


Should life care or medical care be required, a continuing care retirement community or a continuing care facility may be your parents’ best option. 


A continuing care retirement community is a complex where life care and simple medical care can be provided.  Units can be leased or bought. There are many different types with ranging levels of independence, formal and community activity, and food preparation. Take your parents’ mobility, general health, and social tendencies into consideration, but don’t make any decisions for them. They should be a part of the decision-making process from start to finish.


A continuing care facility (or nursing home) has nursing and doctor care available and is much more structured.  Residence in these facilities can also be rented or purchased.  Health insurance is usually accepted, but it’s important to contact your parents’ insurance or Medicare providers to find out exactly what they are eligble for.



Where to Put the Stuff?


Whether they’re moving into a loved one’s home, a retirement community, or a smaller house, downsizing comes down to going through a whole lot of stuff. For your parents, it’s a lifetime of possessions. There are many different approaches on how to efficiently sort through these objects, but it ultimately comes down to dividing things into five categories:


1)    Keep

2)    Sell

3)    Throw away

4)    Donate

5)    Put in outside storage


Studies reveal that most people use a system of questions to determine what to do with each item:


1)    What is your gut reaction?

2)    Is it something you will ever use again?

3)    Could someone else use it more?

4)    How old is the item?

5)    What is its dollar value?

6)    Does it have sentimental reasons to be passed on?

7)    Can old photos and videos be transferred to better technology?

8)    Is this a duplicate item?


Having a good plan to go through your parents’ stuff is vital.  Some people take their time and go through a few items each day.  Others plan a big project and try to evaluate everything at once, but this can sometimes leave seniors feeling overwhelmed. Find a plan that works for your parents, and don’t be afraid to change up the process or pump the brakes if they become overly emotional. If they need a few weeks off from sorting through their items, they’re entitled to it.


Though downsizing is ultimately a good thing, it’s still a major change and departure for your parents; allow them time to process and let go emotionally. With the right planning and processes, your parents will be able to focus on the positives and look forward to a fresh start in their new, downsized, home.



Author: Michael Longsdon (ElderFreedom.net)