You may need to downsize your senior parents’ possessions for a number of reasons. It could be that they are relocating to a smaller home. Or maybe your parents’ home needs decluttering for safety reasons. It’s quite common for elderly persons living alone to use empty bedrooms as storage space – and this can be unsafe and a source of dust-buildup. It may also be that you’ve opted for multi-generational living in the family home and you need the extra space. Whatever the reason may be, decluttering and downsizing your senior parents’ possessions is a beneficial but delicate process.

In this article, we cover helpful tips on downsizing for seniors that adult children should know about. Let’s begin!

Elderly couple going through boxes of possessions

Start Early

Timing is crucial. If you’re looking to initiate downsizing your parents’ possessions, you’d want to start the conversation early – while your parents still have the overall health needed for you to work together through such a process. Moreover, starting under pressure (such as when the house is about to be put up for sale and/or the date of relocation is close at hand) can cause plenty of undue stress on all parties.

If your circumstances have pushed you to race the clock in downsizing, it can be a good idea to have experts on board – such as a senior decluttering/downsizing service specialist. This can save a lot of time, effort, and stress for everyone involved.

Guidance, Not Direction

It’s very important for your elderly parent to be reassured that they are not losing control. No parent would ever want to feel that their child is giving them commands and that they have no choice but to follow. Careful and respectful communication is key. For example, in beginning the conversation about downsizing, you can phrase it as a suggestion and then calmly state the reasons why you think it’s a good idea. It pays to always come from a place of concern and love. If you get any vehement objections initially, centring on a clear and loving purpose will help you to remain calm.

In some cases, downsizing is absolutely necessary and could be needed under time pressure – such as if your parent needs to relocate to an assisted living facility or nursing home because of their health needs. Even in cases like this, it is important to communicate with respect and love.

Work Together & Make It a Family Thing

If your parents are willing and able, it is advisable to go through the process of downsizing together. This ties back to reassuring your parents that they have control over the situation. Moreover, this helps you to make sure that your senior parents have the assistance that they need – instead of if they just do it by themselves.

Another additional benefit of helping your senior parents is that it can be a great opportunity to bond. For sure, many of their possessions hold stories and most parents would be more than happy to share these. You can even involve more family members like your siblings or grandkids. This helps to create a positive experience and eases the pain of letting go of certain possessions.

Daughter listening intently to her elderly mom

Allow Some Time to Reminisce

In some scenarios, time may not be a luxury. But as much as you can, allow your parents to go through reminiscing over possessions. It’s healthy that they get to feel and express these emotions before letting go of the item. Allowing them to reminisce will result in a cathartic and pleasant experience for them.

Be Prepared

There will be rooms to clear that are dusty and humid. Make sure that everyone involved in the decluttering has masks or gloves if necessary. It would also be advisable to have a fan running for hot and humid rooms. Additionally, prepare a comfortable place to rest for your elderly parents as the process can be physically demanding for them.

Start Small & Work Gradually

Begin with the rooms that have less clutter and less sentimental items. This way, your senior parent can slowly practice letting go and feel the fulfillment of clearing through the smaller rooms more quickly.

Consider Options For High-Attachment Items

Some items need to go but your parent could be vehement at the thought. Consider taking HD photos of such items or maybe keeping it within the family in another house. As a last resort, items can be put in a storage facility until the time that your parent is ready to let go. It’s very important not to rush the process or force your parents to let go of something that they don’t want to as this can cause a lot of distress.

Need Help?

There are some cases where you might benefit from expert help. Here at Your Next Steps Inc, our decluttering service can help you navigate this complex process. Our years of experience give us unmatched expertise when it comes to aspects of senior living transitions – and this includes assisting with downsizing possessions.

Got any questions for us? We’d be more than happy to connect. Contact us today!