How to Help Your Parents Downsize

An older married couple is moving into a new apartment

Are you taking on the insurmountable task of helping your parents downsize?

As we age, we eventually need less space. But the task of moving your parents from a longtime family home (with years of stuff) to a retirement community, assisted living, or smaller home is time-consuming and overwhelming. Helping parents with this significant lifestyle change can be challenging.

To make this process easier, here are 7 tips for helping your parents downsize.

1. Start Early
 Waiting until the last minute is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when helping your parents downsize, especially if it’s your childhood home. Planning, organizing, and packing decades of furniture, memories, and family possessions is stressful and time-consuming. Start the process as early as possible, ideally before the need arises. This will allow your parents to sort through their belongings at a comfortable pace.

2. Patience and Compassion are Key
 Whether or not your parents are excited to move, moving from a family home is a significant lifestyle change that can be emotionally draining. Understand that your parents (and you) may experience anger, frustration, and sadness. Acknowledge their feelings and take breaks when needed; take the time to commemorate and enjoy old family photos and sentimental items.

3. Set Realistic Goals
 Downsizing takes time. Be realistic about how long it will take to complete the process.  Set a realistic time frame to complete the job. Don’t be surprised if it takes several months to help your parents downsize and move to their new home.

4. Enlist the Help of Family and Friends
 Downsizing is a significant undertaking; family and friends’ help and support can make the process less daunting. Make it easy for people to help by being flexible. Make it fun by scheduling a purge and packing party with food music and lively music.

5. Hire a Professional Organizer
 Professional organizers can help streamline the process of downsizing.  They’re experts at providing valuable guidance, planning, storage solutions, and hoarding. In addition, Professional organizers can connect you with movers, real estate agents, and home stagers. 

6. Organize and Preserve Important Documents
 Downsizing is the perfect time to sort through, shred, and preserve important documents. You’ll probably come across essential documents such as wills, medical records, insurance policies, retirement plans, and financial accounts. Create a safe, easily accessible system for these documents.

7. Celebrate the New Space
Celebrate this exciting new beginning with a dinner in your parent’s new home or at their favorite restaurant with family and friends.

Helping your parents downsize is a huge undertaking that can be emotionally and physically challenging.  It can also be an exciting new beginning for your parents. Being patient, setting realistic goals, and hiring professionals when needed can make the downsizing process more manageable and less stressful. Downsizing is not just about getting rid of old items; it’s about helping your parents create a comfortable and safe environment that allows them to enjoy the next chapter of their lives.

Source: IlluminAge

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