How to Minimize the Trauma of Downsizing
For senior parents, downsizing can be a traumatic experience. They are leaving the home they have raised their children in, the neighborhood that watched you grow up, and a community they call their own. While you may understand that downsizing is the best option for them because of health concerns or declining mobility, they may have a difficult time getting past their emotions to see the logic behind the decision. Even for seniors who want to downsize to move closer to family members or to save time and money maintaining a home that is too large for them, the process of leaving a beloved home and choosing items to leave behind can be traumatic. If you are helping your parents downsize, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the negative impact of the move and help them handle it a little better.
Make a List of the Benefits of Downsizing
Discussing the benefits of downsizing with your parents before beginning the process will ease some of the pain because you will help them understand the positive reasons behind moving. They can reduce clutter and have less maintenance to worry about as they get older, which will help them enjoy their retirement more and give them more time to spend doing things they love to do. Smaller homes also cost less to cool and heat, so downsizing is a smart financial decision.
Most seniors who downsize do so to accommodate their needs as they age. For example, moving from a multiple-story home to a single-story home helps reduce the risk of falls and is easier on seniors’ joints. Many seniors also opt for homes with open floor plans when they downsize to accommodate for mobility challenges now or in the future. They also find homes that offer walk-in showers or walk-in bathtubs because they are safer and more accommodating.
Seniors also often choose to downsize to a senior living community or assisted living facility that ensures a better quality of life. They will have several people to socialize with and become friendly with in one of these locations, which will help them stave off depression and enjoy their golden years more than they would in a big house by themselves.
Understand What is Most Important to Your Parents
Unfortunately, you will need to help your parents let go of items that are unnecessary in their new home. Rather than keep your trophies and school art projects, your parents should give them to you. If they have multiple sets of dishes or lamps, guide them through selling or donating duplicate items because they will not have room for everything in their new, smaller home.
However, just because your parents are downsizing, they do not need to give up everything that is important to them. When sorting items to keep, donate, or sell, help your parents through the process with patience. If you know they have a special set of mugs, encourage them to keep them. If they have a collection of family photos, make sure to hang them in their new home as soon as you can. Hanging on to items of importance or sentimental value will help your parents feel at home, and you will have to understand what is most important to them to help them decide what to keep.
Hire Professionals to Handle the Physical Labor
Moving day may be the most traumatic for your parents, as they finally have to say goodbye to the home and neighborhood they love. If you are distracted by packing boxes, lifting heavy furniture, and loading a large truck, you will not be able to give your parents the love and support they will need on that difficult day. Hiring professionals to handle the physical labor on moving day will free you to talk to your parents and help them say goodbye while remembering the benefits of downsizing. You will be able to give them your full attention while knowing that their possessions are being well cared for by the professionals who have the appropriate experience and equipment to safely complete the move for you. Do some research to find the right movers for you. Read reviews, compare rates, and ask questions.
Downsizing takes an emotional toll on senior parents. To make the process less traumatic for your parents, help them make a list of the benefits of downsizing, understand what is most important to them to ensure they keep items they love, and hire professionals to handle the physical labor on moving day so you can focus on comforting them.
Image via Pixabay by TeroVesalainen
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