As your parents get older, there are so many things you will need to consider in helping them to adjust and cope with the necessary changes. Every too often, they are placed in situations where they get confused, troubled, or uneasy because of the possible overwhelming realities they are faced with. But, when they are adjusting to the new life, there is one crucial concept to consider – downsizing. Here are our Tips for Downsizing for Seniors.
It may seem like a simple task, but when you have to take care of it, it goes far beyond what you had imagined. Downsizing can be an emotional and technical feat as it involves separating them from what they have grown to know and love.
Tips for Downsizing for Seniors
Like the rocking chair in the corner of the living room that no longer works, why is it even there? The rolled-up rug laying against the wall that has a few large holes in it when you open it up to look at it? The frozen canister of donuts that hides in the back of the freezer?
Your aging parents may have gotten attached to those items, and taking them away can hurt them emotionally and psychologically. But, with so much stuff going on around them and all they have to deal with, what are some of the best ways to get through it?
How To Help them Downsize
First of all, your approach cannot be overbearing because they are now vulnerable and don’t fully understand everything that is going on. You have to approach with caution. Here are some effective ways to work through helping them to downsize:
* Treat them with Respect – Remember they are adults
This is perhaps the most important item when looking at Tips for Downsizing for Seniors. They might have become vulnerable, slow, and don’t move as swiftly as they used to but that doesn’t mean you should treat them as less than a person.
Bear in mind they have feelings and experience emotions as well, so how you deal with them says everything. At this critical stage of their lives, they may have trust issues even if they have lived with you for the longest while.
Many psychological diseases affect them as they get older, so don’t underestimate the fact that they may truly not recognize who you are. As such, when you deal with them, ensure respect stands above everything else, and you will see them warming up to you much easier.
They may do some silly things without realizing it, so don’t use this as an avenue to be hard on them. You have first to understand what is going on so you can know how to deal with any situation that presents itself.
* Dealing with them as a Hoarder
This is one of the most critical stages of helping your aging family to downsize, as it will not be easy to separate them from their belongings. You have to help them understand the importance of giving up some stuff and the benefits it will have for them.
Also, being that they rely mostly on younger family members, you have to consider if it is affecting your functionality as well. Storing it is not the answer and will only create more work for future days.
When you rent a storage facility to house excess items, you will realize it costs you time, money, and some extra space you could use for something else. Get rid of the stuff now, if it has to go.
* Have Multiple Discussion Sessions
You will never get all the information and details across to aging family members in one session, and as such, you have to often break it down it into multiple sessions. You may want to focus on one topic per session to help them analyze and understand what is happening.
Take, for instance, when you choose to discuss their finances, ensure no other topics are discussed with it as finance by itself is a critical topic. Sessions should be best described as “bite-size sessions” and be done when they are most comfortable to talk.
* Move Your Stuff to Your own House
This is probably one of the easiest of our Tips for Downsizing for Seniors. If the children or grandchildren have anything hanging around their parents’ home, now would be the best time to take them to their own houses. This will lessen the pressure of having aging parents look over too much stuff that is not theirs.
Think of the sports trophies, beer can collection, high school paraphernalia, even if it is just small documents, it is best to take them away. If you no longer want those items, dispose of them yourself instead of making them part of the larger project.
* Keep Vintage Items
Elderly family members are always happy when their antiques stick around in the family as it gives them a sense of love and devotion. While going through their homes, check for all those items which can be passed on to a family member such as that special crockpot in the cupboard, an old piano, some jewelry, or special childhood books.
I am not talking about splitting up Mom’s jewelry box or taking things dad uses daily, I am referring to that item that always goes on the fireplace mantle at Christmas, or things that aren’t being used.
If it is a case where they prefer to have it around, you can consider leaving so as not to affect them emotionally and psychologically, as they may be connected to it.
* Rid the House of Unwanted Items
Do you ever stop to realize that most older adults never like to throw anything out? It doesn’t mean that they lived through the Great Depression, but they came from an area of reusing and repurposing items. Everything had a future use.
Well, it might surprise you that there are more than 20 plastic cake or fruit domes in the cupboard and not serving any purpose. Throw them out! Also, going around, check to see what other items are of no value and take them out. Create a sense of “lightness” for their environment.
Whether you want to believe it or not, there is countless stuff your aging parents may have stored up that needs to be thrown out. From the extra worn-out newspaper that cannot be used again to that old chair that cannot be repaired – take them out.
You might be surprised when you start digging through this area – we used 1-800-GOT-JUNK to take a huge load away.
30 Days Declutter Challege
Great examples here are things I have dealt with in our own experiences:
- A yard work sized bag of plastic cake domes from a grocery store bakers
- Said rug I mentioned that wasn’t really usable
- Gallon sized Ziploc bags full of blue plastic cutlery from Culver’s visits
- 11 closets full of clothes
- 23 boxes of recipes clipped out of newspapers or magazines and whole recipe magazines
- 122 pairs of shoes
- Greeting cards, boxes of them that they had received over 50 years
* Consider Donating
This one can come with tax benefits! When taking over our Tips for Downsizing for Seniors. There are so many items that can be donated, so you may want to consider this option when helping your aging parents to downsize.
Countless charities would do well with a few pieces of clothing, or a piece of furniture like an extra dresser or just about any other stuff. However, before you take any of those items to a charity station, discuss with your parents why you are taking it, and if they can help to choose the charity too, it would be good. Make sure you get a receipt of your donation!
Excellent charities to consider:
- Hospice Thrift Store
- Saint Vincent’s
* KonMarie the Other Items
Do you see any other physical item in the home that does not bring joy or enhance the lives of your aging parents? Then, the best bet is to get them out. This process creates the opportunity for proper organization of your space and makes your space much more enticing and comforting.
After all, the need to have a stress-free home is the best thing you can give your parents at this vulnerable stage in their life.
They depend on you to help them transition into the next stage of their lives, and downsizing is one of the most critical stages. They depend on you, but that does not mean leaving them out of decision-making. Let them help!