Weekly Quick Tips

Make Downsizing a Smooth Move

When it’s time for an older adult to ‘downsize to the right-size’, how can you, a caring family member or friend, support them with as little stress as possible? With eight years of supporting seniors and their families through these life transition moves, here are our top eight tips:

1. Remember that they’re still in charge. This is their move, and their life, and not yours! Of course you want what’s best for them, and naturally you want to help organize things. But, for the majority of seniors though, it is still very important to them that they are making the decisions, not you. When we work with families, we always defer to the person who is making the move.

2. Get comfortable with the new residence. Once a new home has been selected, make regular visits before your parent moves in. Meet the staff, the other residents, stay for lunch and mingle. It all helps the senior feel more comfortable with the concept of moving.

3. Take time to sort. Focus on sorting, letting the senior say goodbye to their possessions. Try and schedule sorting sessions in small increments of time. It is tiring, both physically and emotionally to sort through possessions, but one of the most important and rewarding things you can do.

4. Accept their gifts. Knowing that passing something on to a family member or friend is very satisfying and comforting. Chances are your parents have come from a post-war generation, and they worked hard for their money, so their ‘stuff’ means something to them. Unless your own house is overflowing, accept their gift with appreciation. 

5. Prepare for the move. Start with a floor plan of where they are moving to, measure all of their ‘must have’ furniture, and then physically plot it all out in their new suite. Look at where they spend most of their time, and what their daily habits are and will be. Will they eat breakfast in a communal dining room, on a TV tray watching the TV or at a table? Moving from a large home into a space of 500 square feet will take some planning. In small spaces, furniture must have function, not just aesthetics.

6. Let the senior decorate. And speaking of aesthetics, most adult children tend to want to ‘decorate’ the new home to make it look nice. But what is really important here is familiarity and routine. Whenever possible, mirror the exact same environment in their new home as their old. It may mean bringing that large ugly old Lazy-boy chair, but if that is what they sit in every day, bring it. Take photos of curio cabinets and bookshelves to ensure that items are placed back in the right place.

7. Be realistic. Be realistic about how much time you have to devote to the project. Allow at least 60 to 80 hours, and if possible, spread out the sorting process. Eight hours a day may work for you, but it is more often than not overwhelming and excessively tiring for a senior. Making decisionswhile strolling down memory lane is hard, emotional work.

8. Delegate. As with most jobs, delegation is the key to getting the job done and keeping your sanity. If the job is too much for you and your siblings to handle, consider hiring a Senior Move Manager to help with either part of the move or the entire thing. Delegating will allow you to focus on what is most important, and that is the emotional health of the senior.

Did you know that Organizing Lives has achieved a Certified Transition and Relocation Specialist (CRTS) Designation, which provides advanced training promoting professional standards within the Senior Move Industry? The only third-party credential in the industry, the CRTS designation represents standards of excellence in the field of Senior Home Transition Downsizing. Want more info on downsizing? Check out our book Reduce Resize REVIVE, The Upside to Downsizing and read a preview or order your copy today!Copyright © 2013 Organizing Lives ® All rights are reserved and no part of this article may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means unless expressly stated otherwise, or except with the written permission of Organizing Lives®. Enquires should be directed to: info@orgliv.mybusinesshub.ca