HomeCaregivingAre You Helping Your Senior Loved Downsize?

Are You Helping Your Senior Loved Downsize?

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Whether preparing to transition into an assisted living facility or just looking to make some extra space to accommodate life changes, you will notice they will have to downsize.  Though this process can seem overwhelming, it can make daily life easier to manage and will make any move much simpler and less stressful. Downsizing is extremely helpful in any move, so try downsizing before trying to move all the objects into their new stage of life.  Here are 5 quick tips to help get started.

1 – Start Small

  • Downsizing for seniors is a process and will take time. Starting one room at a time, or even one box at a time, is usually the best way to start.  Letting go of the things that we have collected over our lives is difficult, so take your time and don’t try to rush.
  • Sometimes its helpful to give them one box and give them a due date. Think of it like homework, this gives them time to do it at their own pace. It can be sad to let go of things, so giving them a small box and checking on it in a few days will allow them to say bye.

2 – Categorize it!

  • Sorting out items into categories can be a helpful way to process everything. They offer a useful system to work through the sheer amount of stuff to process.  Some ideas of helpful categories to use:
    • Keep
    • Donate
    • Sell
    • Trash
    • Not Sure

This will get the ball rolling and make them think about if they are able to donate it. You can do this more than once, once everything is sorted, move the trash out of the house. Sell the pile of things that can go and take the rest to donate. With the pile that’s in the not sure pile, go through it again and see if more of it can go. If the keep pile is still too big, wait a week and let them think about it and try again.

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3 – Get Support

  • Don’t take on this massive undertaking alone. Ask for help.  Friends and family are there for support. If not, a simple Google search will give a lengthy list of companies that specialize in downsizing for seniors and moving services.   These providers can offer an emotionally detached perspective which can prove valuable when attachments can impact our own judgment.

4– Ask Difficult Questions and Answer them Honestly

  • Downsizing for seniors can become a very indecisive task, so use these questions to help: Do I really need this? Is it really important to me?  Will I have room for it? Where could it go? Can I live without it? Could someone else use it? This can be hard at first but as they see the amount of stuff going down it can be a relaxing a meditative experience for them. So give them time to answer and give them time to come to the decision that they might not need all of it anymore.
  • Another good question when downsizing for seniors is do they have any duplicates? Or anything that serves the same purpose. Do they have two microwaves in different rooms? Could they just have one in the kitchen only? Try to think of things that can serves a dual purpose so that you can get rid of the other item.

5 – Let Go

  • Many of these possessions have been cherished for decades or longer. Discarding them is not going to be easy.  To make it a little bit easier, consider passing on cherished items to family and friends.  Photographing an item can be another way to help remember the joy it once gave.
  • Check the rooms that aren’t used. Often in houses their are certain rooms that are supposed to be a den or office but has really just turned into an extra storage room. These rooms are usually easy rooms that have many items that maybe need to be let go.

Sometimes for many seniors, letting go of an item can be like letting go of a memory. Make sure you take pictures or take note of all the memories that come with each item. Getting them a notebook to allow them to write down the memories as they see each object can be a good way to help them let go of the object but keep the memory. Taking pictures and putting them in a photo album is also a good way to downsize from a room full of items to just one book filled with good memories. Make it a good experience, put some music on and think of it like a big spring cleaning.

We would love to hear any tips you might have on downsizing for seniors and helping elderly loved ones transition into assisted living and retirement homes!  Let us know in the comments below.

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The Giving Care Team is a group of senior and adaptive clothing professionals dedicated to helping the elderly maintain a comfortable and dignified lifestyle with tips and secrets on how to get the most out of life when disability and age fight to stop us at every opportunity. The Giving Care Blog is a resource for seniors, their families and caregivers.

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