Preparing Aging Parents for Downsizing

Author: Kay Jurica

Moving is stressful when everything goes right! Moving aging parents from the home they have known for years can come with many extra challenges. Not only are you downsizing, but you are also helping them go through memories, special items, etc. For seniors who have been in their house for years and even raised children and grandchildren there, this process requires a special touch with lots of care. Our checklist is designed to help make downsizing easier on both you and your parents when it comes time to move.

First of all, set small and realistic goals. Moving is a great time to go through things and downsize. But it can also be overwhelming. Think about the new space your loved one will be inhabiting, then help them keep what means the most. You will need to work together to determine not only what is important, but what fits.

Careful Planning Means Less Stress

It’s best to do large tasks in small bites. Try to break down what needs to be done in stages, so that moving doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Give your parents time to look at their items, choose what is important, reminisce a bit, and then assure them you are not throwing away things they hold dear. The best way to do this is one room at a time.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Set a deadline for the project.
  • Understand the new floorplan so you can see which large items fit.
  • Have a yard sale for things that are no longer needed.
  • Set aside items that will be given to special friends or family for safekeeping. Make notes on these items, as well as their recipients.
  • Allow plenty of time for the sorting process. Remember, this is a life-altering transition that can make your parent feel like they are losing control. 
  • Think about their new lifestyle. For instance, china and silver might be safely stowed or given away if entertaining will no longer be part of their daily lives.

Declutter, Organize and Toss

This can be the hardest part of the job, as there will likely be many years of paperwork bills, tax returns, etc. 

  • Decide which paperwork is important to keep. Organize bills, taxes, receipts, etc. into bank boxes to be stored away.
  • If at all possible, scan these items to store them digitally so that even more tangible paperwork can be tossed. 
  • Free space by getting rid of duplicate items, such as kitchen utensils, etc. 
  • Give things away. Passing precious heirlooms to other family is a beautiful way to preserve memories. Now would be a great time to do that. 
  • Allow loved ones to come and choose items that need to be gone through, so they can keep what is important to them before the move happens. This is also a beautiful way to keep precious items in the family!
  • Donate items that are low in value but in good condition. Good Will or other charities are always looking for these types of things. 
  • For items that are still high in value, consider holding a yard sale to bring in as much money as possible. Every dollar helps!
  • As hard as it might be, try to make concrete choices and decisions, rather than “maybe” piles. If your goal is to downsize, the decisions need to be made right then. 
  • Finally, consider gathering all family photos and scanning them into a computer. They will not only be protected this way but could also be placed onto a DVD for your parents to see any time they wish!

When It’s Moving Day

It’s always smart to help your parents pack an essentials bag, with a couple of changes of clothes, toiletries, and medication. Everything else will be packed in boxes. Here are some helpful tips for that process:

  • Be sure to mark boxes fragile if they hold delicate items. Remember—these items belong to someone who has loved and cared for them over many years. 
  • Label every single box so unpacking and organizing in the new space will be much easier. 
  • Make a list of the things coming with them in the move. This inventory will give peace of mind that nothing important will be forgotten. This can be especially helpful for seniors who already struggle with a cognitive disability such as dementia. 
  • Spend quality time! Remember, this can be a beautiful time to share memories, go through items together and talk about the memories attached to them. Your parents will cherish this time with you, so allow them to talk, and ask questions!

Moving seniors out of the place they have known for a long time can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be painful. You can use this list to keep you moving along in the process, but also to help guide you in communication and reminiscing. Your assurance and comfort are the best possible way to help your parents know they will be safe and happy in this new season of life! Don’t be afraid to find out how they’re feeling, and then offer calm in the midst of their storm. Every senior deserves to feel heard and respected. It’s no different during these times of change!

For more information on how to simplify the moving process for aging parents and seniors, please contact us today!!

Home Helpers of Bourbonnais is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Bradley, Manteno, Momence, Herscher, Watseka, Dwight, Braidwood, and Wilmington, Illinois.

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