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Helping Your Aging Parent Downsize

October 5 2018

Helping Your Aging Parent DownsizeMany seniors eventually need to downsize into a smaller space. This could mean moving from a large house into a smaller apartment, a room in a relative’s home, or into a retirement community. If your parent is ready to downsize, one of the biggest tasks that you might face is helping them sort through their possessions.

Be Patient With Your Parent

Your parent has spent a lifetime accumulating possessions. Some of them might be heirlooms passed down through generations, while others might be knick knacks acquired at a thrift shop last year. Regardless of how long they’ve been around, most possessions hold a dear place in your parent’s heart and should be treated as such. Letting go is difficult for anyone, so this is the time to be as understanding and patient as possible. Your parent might be as practical as they come, but when it comes to such a major life change, you might see some resistance and reluctance.

Keeping What Is Needed

Take into account where you parent will be moving. Will they be doing their own cooking? If not, they won’t need to keep their pots and pans. Are they moving into a fully furnished retirement community? If so, furniture can be donated. Washer and dryers can be sold if there are laundry services provided. Though it might be tempting to take everything and load it into a storage facility just-in-case, that’s just an expensive way to delay the task. Take stock of what will be used or needed now, and get rid of the rest.

Sorting Through The Rest

Items that are the least sentimental, such as extra linens and seldom-worn clothing, can be donated or discarded from the start. Items that are the most sentimental, like photos and family heirlooms, should be set aside for keeping. For the items in the middle-ground, ask your parent three questions:
• Do you need it?

• Do you love it?

• Do you use it?
If they can answer yes to two or more of these questions, let them keep it. One yes (or less) means it’s time to let go. Be gentle, but firm.
Be sure to budget yourself plenty of time to downsize, as the process can take weeks to get through. Once it’s over, and your parent is comfortably residing in their new apartment or retirement community, everyone will be glad they took the time to make it happen.