24 September 2020/General

How to Help Your Elderly Parents Downsize

If you have aging parents, you may have to help them with downsizing to a smaller home, an assisted living facility, or unfortunately have to help them deal with the aftermath if one of your parents has passed away. Moving or dealing with the death of a loved one can be a very emotional time, for you and for them, but with a few tips, you can care for your elderly parents during this time.

Start Early

Begin the process of decluttering well in advance of moving day. Start with simple tasks such as shredding old bills, mail, and papers that are not relevant or important anymore. Go through clothing and carefully consider household items to decide which are still being used and justify going along with the move. Also, ensure expired medication and food is thrown out and replaced. The earlier the decluttering process starts, the easier it will be when it comes time to move.

Prepare for Emotions

Elderly people have a lot of memories in their home and attached to belongings they have possessed for a long time. Be prepared to expect emotions from your loved one when they see these items or are asked to choose to discard or donate them. Some elderly people have lived through very frugal times and may resist throwing things away. If a parent has passed and you are helping to sort their belongings this may bring up strong feelings in your surviving parent. Be patient and ready to hear stories and memories. You must be emotionally prepared to discuss and react in appropriate ways to these situations.

Be Systematic and Organized

The principles of an efficient move still apply to downsizing or estate sales. Go through each room systematically; declutter the space; organize everything into piles of keep, donate, discard; and label all boxes and bags with its contents. It might be useful to keep a physical list of the rooms, prioritize them, and list their major contents if your parent(s) could use that organizational help. If your finances allow, there are movers who specialize in relocating seniors.

Get Your Siblings Involved

Some parents love to keep their children’s bedrooms as untouched as possible and will keep all of their childhood items. It might be useful to have your siblings come over and look through their childhood bedrooms to make decisions about what to keep, donate, and discard on behalf of your parent(s) so they don’t have to make these tough decisions all on their own.

Keep it Light

Make the process fun for your parent(s). Play some of their favorite music while you work, take breaks for tea or delicious snacks, and keep it relaxed and comfortable. Also, it is recommended that you limit the 

amount of time you spend each day on organizing and packing so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. 

Make a Plan For Pets

If there is a pet to consider, make sure that they can be put in a crate or placed in a room where they will not be tempted to wander outside during the move. Also, older pets may need some time for adjusting to new surroundings.

If you’re taking care of elderly parents during a downsize or estate sale, you might need a self-storage unit for furniture or items that do not need to be accessed regularly. Call your nearest location to reserve one today.