Find out about the best ways to help your older parent downsize and navigate both the emotional and practical challenges of downsizing.
If you want to help your older parent downsize then this is a journey that requires a lot of empathy, patience and support. In this article, we’re going to guide you through different aspects of this lifestyle change, exploring the emotional and practical challenges of moving house, as well as looking over the importance of decluttering and finding local care services.
Let’s take a closer look:
The Emotional Challenges Of Downsizing
When it comes to downsizing, the emotions can run deep, especially for older parents who have built a lifetime of memories in their home. They may well have a really strong attachment to their home, and many of the belongings they have gathered over the years. These possessions are not only sentimental, but they can also represent safety, security and comfort. Downsizing may also mean saying goodbye to a neighbourhood and locale they have loved for a very long time.
To help your parents through this emotional journey, it is important to maintain the line of communication. Be compassionate and open, always approaching the topic gently and with understanding. The key to avoiding any clashes is active listening. Showing empathy and showing you understand their perspective. Remember, this is a huge change for them and understanding and support are crucial to help them get through it with as little stress and upset as possible.
Practical Issues When You Help an Older Parent Downsize
The practical challenges of downsizing are vast, so it is going to be a big help to your ageing parents when you help them with the process.
One of the biggest jobs will be helping your parents to sort through their belongings. It can be a very emotional thing to do, so try to be respectful and keep your parents thinking about it as a practical task. Encourage your parents to work through what they want to keep, what they could donate, what they could gift, and what could be thrown away. If they want to sell anything, you can help to do that on their behalf as you’re likely to be more proficient with online sales processes and sites.
Once you have sorted through everything, you should also make sure everything is well organised. Lots of labels and keeping items in grouped boxes will help all involved to have an understanding of where each item is. This helps with general organisation, and with the moving process itself.
Another practical aspect to consider when helping a parent downsize will be coordinating all the different amenities, services and people involved in this process. The best thing you can do is arrange to be an official advocate for your parents during this time, so that you have the right to contact different companies and people on their behalf. This will ensure that you can organise all the logistics for your parents and keep things as low in stress as possible for them.
The Difficulty, But Importance Of Decluttering
Decluttering can be a daunting task, but it is a crucial part of downsizing. As we mentioned above, organising is important and is part of any house move, downsizing or not. However, decluttering is essential with downsizing because there needs to be less in order for the new house to be pleasant to live in. So, whilst some items can go into self storage, ultimately it is time to let a lot of items go, too.
So, whilst you’re sorting through everything with your parents, there does also need to be an emphasis on actively making the items they own, take up a lot less space overall. This may not only involve smaller items like ornaments and clothes, but also large pieces of furniture that just won’t fit in the new place. These kinds of items may be very hard for them to get rid of, and going shopping for nice new things for the new house could be a really good way for your parents to look ahead and look forward to the move, rather than just feeling like they are letting go of lots of things they always loved.
Utilising Professional Services To Make Things Easier
As you help your elderly parents downsize, professional help can ease the stress and challenge of such a huge task. Professional organisers and decluttering experts can help sort everything out much quicker than you can because it’s their profession. This can be helpful if your parents have a large house with lots of things. If the emotional side of the process requires more of your energy, practical help could ease the strain on your responsibilities.
Interior designers can be helpful designing the new property to be beautiful and comfortable for your parents, helping them to feel more excited about the move. They can also help with the logistics of planning out the design of a smaller house.
And don’t forget about local self-storage facilities. Sometimes there will be items that your parents cannot get rid of, but they also don’t have room for. Sentimental items, keepsakes and other things they just can’t let go of yet, Safe, dry, affordable self storage is really helpful to keep those things safe until your parents feel ready to decide what to do with them.
Connecting With Local Services For The Elderly
Connecting with various services related to your parents’ care as they age is important. Those services could be charity or council services that will be helping with adjusting the new smaller property to suit your parents care needs. It could also be support services from the retirement community (if that is where your parents are moving). You may also need to liaise with home care services providers about your parents needs and how to accommodate them safely in the new property.
Speaking with local charities supporting the elderly is a really good thing to do ahead of downsizing, as it helps you to plump up the support for your parents and get some aspects of care in place before the move happens.
Embracing Change For A Brighter Tomorrow
When you help an older parent downsize into a smaller house it can be very emotional and tiring, but ultimately it will result in a happy and healthy fresh start for them. With empathy, professional assistance, and lots of organisation, your parents can begin this new chapter with confidence and optimism. With your help, your parents will be downsizing their house, but they will be upsizing their quality of life in return.