Making the Tough Calls: A Guide to Senior Downsizing

By: Michael Longsdon

Making the Tough Calls: A Guide to Senior Downsizing

Tags: Downsizing, Selling Your Home, Barrie Real Estate

The decision for a senior citizen to downsize, whether made on their own or with the encouragement of family, can be a complicated one. Often, the move into a retirement community or simply a smaller space can present some very difficult decisions such as which items are worth keeping and which should be thrown out or donated. Attachments to items come from memories, their inherent value, or a number of other reasons, and itemizing these attachments in order to decide which to let go is not as cut and dry as some may believe.
(Photo via Pixabay)


The Convincing Process


My Move presents some very helpful words of wisdom for seniors faced with downsizing. When beginning the decision-making process, it is wise to get an early start. When it comes to deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, the decisions can be painstaking and laborious, and the logistics of donating and moving items to a new location must not be underestimated, either.


Some family members will face the task of convincing a loved one that they do, in fact, need to downsize their life. In this case, A Place for Mom suggests that bringing in a friend who the parent respects in order to eliminate emotional baggage from the equation could be very helpful. If this person is willing to help walk the senior through decisions regarding which items must be let go of, even better.


If the senior is downsizing to a new home, make sure to research home prices in the area and assess how much space will be available. Make sure to consider specific dimensions. If the senior is moving to a retirement community, policies regarding personal furniture should be observed. If they are permitted to keep their own furniture, taking measurements to determine which items will fit in the new space will help to avoid unnecessary mover’s fees and excess labor.


Many sources recommend that the actual sorting of items begin in a small room, which will be less intimidating. You can start in a room which holds items of little sentimental value. This can help the senior get acclimated to the act of getting rid of many items, while creating a sense of accomplishment before moving on to more daunting rooms. In this process, each step, however little, counts.


Be Prepared for Pushback


There are limits on how many items a senior will willingly give up. Making downsizing more difficult, in many cases, is the common reality that seniors may feel forced to move, as opposed to reaching that conclusion on their own. As noted in Senior Living magazine, moving can be equated to a sort of grieving process for many seniors whose life’s memories may have been primarily made in such a space.


While moving is often stressful for most, the downsizing process which must be undertaken by most seniors can be downright traumatic. Rarely is it easy. For this reason, maintaining an understanding demeanor toward loved ones who are facing this often-frightening scenario is critical, while applying tough love in encouraging decisions related to selling, donating, or throwing out long-owned property is also crucial. The attainment of such a balanced approach is the key to reducing emotional flare-ups and preventing any undue conflict or emotional pain.


It is often the adult children of seniors who lead the charge in realizing that it is time to downsize. They, too, are often tasked with handling and facilitating the logistics of the actual downsizing process. For this, they must be equipped with a realistic mentality and mental tool-kit for how to go about the downsizing process, from persuading the senior that moving is necessary to deciding which room to start vetting first.