Helping your aging parents downsize may seem like a scary task. For those taking care of their elderly family members, it is a pivotal point that an individual must handle with understanding, delicacy, and care.
When you’re helping your aging parents downsize their home, you’re likely intruding upon an entire lifetime of collected memories. Downsizing a home also might mean that your parent is going through some changes in living arrangements, which can make a senior anxious.
With some care and a few tips from experienced professionals, you can make downsizing your aging parent’s home much more comfortable for everyone involved.
Prepare Yourself and Your Family For the Extent of the Downsizing
It’s important not to underestimate the size of the job. Start planning as early as possible to avoid having to do a lot of work last minute. You may want to prepare your elderly parents by asking them to create a list of items they know they want to keep, and a list of where they keep their most essential items. This way, you can assure them that the things that matter to them won’t be tossed out.
Get the supplies you’ll need in advance. Prepare the trash bags, bins, or other cleaning supplies necessary to downsize a home. This will encourage you and your parents to work on separating items little by little.
Think Long Term
Show your parents photos of the space they’ll soon be residing in. This will help them prepare ahead of time which items they can fit into the new place, and which pieces of furniture must go somewhere else.
Discuss their lifestyle with them, as that will make a difference in the items they choose to keep. For example, if your aging parent is still mobile and plans to entertain guests in their new home, then they might want to hang on to some extra kitchenware. On the other hand, if your parent is moving into an assisted living facility, they may have limitations on what they can bring. Allow them to express their wishes for their long-term living terms, and you’ll find that the entire process is less traumatic for them.
Create Categories, Separate Items, and Ask Questions
When you finally start the process of actually sorting through your parent’s items, you’ll want to create categories that the items will go in. Consider whether an object should be thrown out, or if it is something to donate. Some things you can keep in the family. You may also create an additional category of items to sell, like tools or collectibles.
Assuring your elderly family members that memorable items, like stacks of photo albums or other heirlooms, will be well taken care of and given to family members. It may help your parents to know that their loved ones will keep their prized possessions.
If you’re having a tough time convincing your aging parents to downsize and throw out specific items, ask them these three questions:
- Do you need this item?
- Do you love this item/does it hold significance?
- When was the last time this item was used?
It can be tough to admit, but once your parents can see that that have no use for this item, they might be more willing to part with it. For example, if they haven’t used their leaf blower in more than a year or two, you may be able to sell it for them and help with the financial stress of the move.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
Taking care of an elderly parent is difficult, which is why there are so many services in the Florida area that recognize the specific struggles that older adults face, and personalize their services to meet each patient’s needs better.
When helping your aging parents downsize their home, consider getting people to help out. If there are any other family members who live nearby, or are willing to travel and help, don’t hesitate to ask them! Even if there are no relatives, try bringing in a trusted friend or two to help with some of the lifting and physical tasks of moving.
You may also want to consider professional help. Contact your parent’s caregiving service and ask for advice; they may be able to direct you to the specialized services you need! At First In Care we would be happy to talk to you and offer some advice and helpful resources.