I recently received this email from Mike Longsdon at ElderFreedom.net:
Recently, my wife’s parents moved from Sacramento to San Diego to be closer to us. My father-in-law has had some health issues lately and my mother-in-law was struggling to keep up with him while also maintaining their home.
The first step, of course, was selling their old home. It was full of years of memories, but also a lot of junk. While my mother-in-law wanted to keep most of it, after some tough choices and a big yard sale, she has settled into their new San Diego condo with less stuff but more peace of mind.
Throughout the process, I’ve learned a lot about what goes into helping senior parents downsize. I’d love to share what I’ve learned on your blog.
I told him we'd be happy to share his information...
Stress-Free Downsizing for Seniors
Moving is physically draining at any age, but for seniors it can be even more challenging when the move involves downsizing into a smaller home. Many seniors have physical conditions such as limited mobility or brittle bones that could hinder the moving process. Particularly when downsizing, moving can be emotionaly taxing for older adults because they’re having to leave a long-time home while also giving up treasured items. In order to ensure your loved one has a stress-free move, it is wise to plan ahead. Here’s a great checklist that can help with the planning, and here are a few tips to help make their transition a smooth one.
Delegate a Moving Team
Due to the fragile nature of most older adults, it would be best to hire a moving company to help with the moving of furniture and boxes. Organizations like the National Association of Senior Move Managers specialize in helping older adults and their families with the physical and emotional process of downsizing into a new residence. Through the NASMM you will be assigned a Senior Move Manager who will help your loved one with their move from start to finish. The Senior Move manager will construct a customised floor plan for the new home so your senior will be able to visualize where their belongings will fit. They will also supervise the professional packing of the old residence and unpack and setup the new home so that it is turnkey ready. Any old or unwanted belongings will be arranged for profitable disposal through estate sales, consignment, or buyout. Making the decision to hire a Senior Move Manager truly takes all of the stress out of the moving process and provides a one-stop-shop solution.
Sort Through Items
The biggest issue seniors will face when downsizing is having to get rid of some of their stuff in order to live comfortably in their new, smaller home. What you see as stuff your loved one sees as a lifetime of memories. As you go room by room, avoid phrasing questions in a yes-no format, as it creates reluctance. For example, instead of asking what pots and pans your loved one would like to keep, simply say, “I’ve got your best frying pan, two cooking pots, and your large crockpot. Does that sound okay?” Although you aren’t necessarily making the decision for them, you are easing them in the right direction by removing some of the pressure. Encourage them to keep their focus on the most-used items.
If there are items that are to be gifted to family members or friends, suggest that they go ahead and gift them. For items that your senior can’t bare to part with despite not having room, take photos of the items that you are getting rid of to put in a memory scrapbook or use self-storage.
Pack the Essentials
To make sure the arrival at the new home goes smoothly, pack a bag with all of your senior’s immediate needs such as clothes, medications, eyewear, and toiletries. Keep this bag in an easy-to-access place so they won’t have any trouble finding what they need. Clutter and disfunction will only confuse your senior and make them more resistant so it is best to think ahead and have everything they need at their disposal. If they have any medical equipment or special supplies, work closely with the movers or family members to make sure everything is accessible and undamaged during the move.
Make the New Place Feel Like Home
The most important thing you can do in their new place of residence is to make it as comfortable and safe as possible. Recognition is very important when you are trying to help a senior embrace a new living environment so try to keep familiar pieces in their view. Decorate the walls with their favorite portraits and drape their favorite blanket over the arm of the couch. The more the new place looks like home, the easier the emotional transition will be for them.
Although you cannot predict everything that comes with the moving process, the best thing you can do is be prepared with help and have patience and compassion for your loved one. The downsizing process will be difficult for them. However, you can help make it less stressful and encourage them to look forward to what lies ahead!