For most seniors, downsizing into either a retirement home or a smaller more manageable space like a condo or apartment is a big adjustment. Downsizing is not only challenging for the senior, but the caregivers or family members as well – especially when the move is forced and needed for safety or health concerns.
When you are a caregiver, your input and support are priceless during this process. First and foremost, try to keep in mind that they are leaving the home they have perhaps lived in for decades and being faced with downsizing their countless belongings is going to prove challenging. Let’s talk about some tips to ensure our seniors are downsizing with dignity.
Downsizing with dignity tip 1: Always Think Before You Speak
The senior in the process of downsizing will most likely have many possessions that will no longer serve them in their new, smaller space. This is going to be an emotional step for them. Parting with possessions that they’ve had and cherished for many years is not going to be easy. Maintain your patience, and think before you speak. Give them the space they need to process their emotions and allow them to part with their belongings with grace.
Downsizing with dignity tip 2: Avoid Getting Overly Sentimental
If you are the one helping your senior through the downsizing process, you might find yourself getting overly sentimental over home items that meant something to you – or even belonged to you at one point. Ask for permission to take these items either to your home or to dispose of them by goodwill or the garbage. But you should ensure that you don’t demonstrate too much emotion here. This will only make the process harder for the senior involved.
Downsizing with dignity tip 3: Decisions Are Not Always Black and White
When you are helping the elderly downsize, try not to make hasty decisions on their behalf. They may be unsure of what to do with a home item – give them the space to make this decision. Not all items will be black and white. Toss or keep. Perhaps set up a third bin labeled ‘thinking about’… which will give them some flexibility and may avoid added overwhelm and stress.
Downsizing with dignity tip 4: Emphasize The Positive
It’s normal for the elderly to feel a bit nostalgic during a downsize. They may even show some negativity around the idea. Remind them of the ‘pros’ of moving into a smaller space. Maintaining a positive outlook around your senior is paramount in the downsizing process. If they are moving into a retirement home, remind them of all the new people they will meet, activities to participate in etc. If moving to a smaller home or condo, remind them that their will be less up-keep of the home and smaller bills. If they are moving close to parks or even closer to family members, remind them of these things. The more peace you can present to them – the better they will feel about the move.
Downsizing with dignity tip 5: Safeguard Special Keepsakes
Their will inevitably be items that are precious and invaluable to your senior. Come up with a plan with your senior as to how they will be kept and treasured if they can not be moved along with them. Whether it’s keeping them in your home, or passed on to another friend or family member, ensure the senior feels good about the decision. They will feel better knowing their treasures are in good hands – and being remembered.
While downsizing isn’t easy for anyone, it can be a tough process for the elderly. Love and patience are crucial during the entire process. If you find you need a little extra support and guidance with this process from a professional, we’re always here to support you. Simply reach out here and let’s have a chat.