How to Help Your Loved one “Downsize”

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There comes a time for many seniors when downsizing their home becomes a necessity. Reasons for downsizing can include safety concerns, a desire to move or organizational issues. Regardless, finding a solution with which seniors feel comfortable can be a challenge. This is a sensitive subject to broach, but being mindful and considerate can help the situation.

Below are three effective tips to effectively help downsize a loved one’s home:

  1. Be respectful. It’s important to recognize that no matter how unimportant or trivial someone’s belongs may seem to you, there is a reason the individual has held on to them. Each object, article of clothing or seemingly unnecessary trinket can hold a wealth of memories and sentiment for the individual. This is why it is important that the downsizing process be a collaborative one. Your aging loved one will feel better about the change in knowing that they voice is valued and respected throughout the process.
  2. Identify goal and set a schedule. Before you begin, determine what you are trying to accomplish. For example, what percentage of “stuff” must go? Setting measurable goals and deadlines can help you and your loved one work in an efficient manner. Start the downsizing process by sorting through one or two small rooms each week. Then, set larger targets and milestones until your objective is reached.
  3. Communicate. Consult with your loved before disposing of anything. If they are reluctant to part with an item, ask them to explain to you why they feel it is important to hold on to it. Engage your parent in an honest discussion to help them feel heard and involved in the process of deciding what items should stay and what items need to go.

At the end of the day, the most important consideration is that your loved one is safe in her or his own home. If your loved one has an overwhelming amount of belongings that are beginning to clutter their personal space, it may be time to evaluate working together to develop a strategy to organize. Donating belongings to a charitable group, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, can be a great solution.


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