Downsizing the home: Where to move & what to keepSooner or later, many seniors need to make a major change in their living arrangements, and that often includes downsizing their home – getting rid of the things they don’t need or use any more – and perhaps even moving into some kind of care facility.

Where to move
If your loved one is still capable of some self-care, there are two major options for “next step” senior living:

Independent living facilities
Ideal for healthy and active seniors, this type of living arrangement enables seniors to participate in a variety of recreational and social activities while living in their own home in a managed and maintained senior community that often provides a resort-type lifestyle.

Assisted living facilities
This type of senior living arrangement provides some non-medical assistance for seniors who do not need 24-hour medical help and want to live independently. Care can include a variety of personal service such as help with bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, and minor household chores.

This can be a very stressful and confusing period for  a senior, so it’s important to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. If you’re a senior caregiver, here are some ideas that can help you help them make the transition:

Is downsizing really necessary?
Every situation is different. Is your senior moving into a smaller space? Is there simply too much clutter from years of accumulation that makes every day activities and home maintenance difficult? Try to assess the situation objectively – is there truly a need to downsize or are you perhaps just tired of seeing a lot of stuff, even though it’s not causing issues? Don’t be afraid to ask for an outside opinion – another family member or a trusted friend. If it’s determined that downsizing is necessary, it may be time to have a tough (but positive) conversation with your senior.

When clutter becomes a concern
It can be a fine line between holding onto a little too much stuff and hoarding. Some seniors may hold onto things because they represent memories they’re afraid to lose. If you suspect, though, that it’s become hoarding, initiating a conversation may be hard. Often it helps to enlist family and friends to participate in the discussion about what to do with all the unneeded items. Sometimes a senior may feel some amount of shame or humiliation in having let their possessions get out of control – one way to address this in a positive way is to encourage them to donate unneeded stuff to those who need it. This enables the senior to feel the joy of helping others instead of feeling like they’re the ones always needing help.

Tips To Make Downsizing For Seniors Less Stressful and Easier:

  1. Check the layout of the new place
    To help seniors downsize, find out the layout for the new place in advance so you know how much space the senior will have. This will help you and your senior loved one decide on what will fit and what things they can and should bring.
  1. Sort wisely
    When a senior decides to downsize, help him or her avoid clutter. Be sure to help your senior loved one sort out his or her belongings. Separate the things that the senior uses and things that he or she barely uses or does not need at all.
  1. One room at a time
    When packing, start with areas the senior uses the least, such as the attic or garage, which will have less emotional attachments
  1. Keep a list
    Downsizing can be overwhelming. To stay organized it’s important to keep a list so nothing gets forgotten.
  1. Determine the things to:
  • keep
  • give to family and friends
  • sell/donate or
  • throw away
  1. Organize a family get-together
    When a senior decides to downsize, it’s nice to organize a family get-together so the senior can distribute his or her things among family members. Remind your senior loved one to share his or her memories before giving out the item so your friend or family member would know and understand its importance. This will make family and friends appreciate the senior’s generosity even more.
  1. Take pictures
    It’s a good idea to take pictures of sentimental things the senior may have to leave behind. This will help them keep the memory and might make the “letting go” process easier.
  1. Give to charity
    If you will be moving your senior to an assisted living facility, cooking utensils and dinner plates will no longer be needed. Donating them to social services or other charitable organizations will be a good idea.
  1. Is a senior mover necessary?
    If you’re helping a senior loved one downsize, you will be able to help decide whether a senior mover is needed. Seniors who downsize usually hire senior movers if they want to bring their furniture and other heavy things to the new place. Senior moving companies specialize in senior moving needs. They can help make the downsizing and transition easier by helping organize and sort possessions. Check the Internet or Yellow Pages for listings of Senior Movers.
  1. Relax.
    Everything is done! You can now relax with your senior loved one. Assure your elderly loved one that he or she made the right choice to downsize.

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