facebook twitter youtube google plus linkedin

Parents and Downsizing: 7 Tips to Simplify the Process

Parents and Downsizing: 7 Tips to Simplify the Process

By Kristen Reed Edens

Are you or a parent considering downsizing?

It’s a hot topic for Boomers and their parents, with the reasons being many: health considerations, financial situations, moving closer to family, the desire to minimize. Regardless of the reason, the numbers of boomers downsizing is growing.

According to the real estate site, Trulia, 7% of those aged 55 – 64 and 20% over 65, respectively, would prefer a smaller abode rather than a larger one if they decided to move this year. For the folks considering a move in the next 10 years, those aged 55 to 64 planning to downsize jumps to 34% and for those over 65, it jumps from 20% to 40%.

Downsizing entered my family circle in early 2010 after my 72 year old healthy, active father fell in his home, suffering severe traumatic brain injury and paralysis. My 70 year old mother was suddenly alone in a 3-level home, with 8 large rooms, 3 bathrooms, and 2 acres of land to care for. The shock and sorrow of my father’s condition and caring for the house and property rapidly overwhelmed her.

Over the next two years, I helped my mother strategically downsize to something more suitable for her abilities. If you find yourself engaged in helping a parent downsize, or are considering a move yourself, here are some of the tips that we gathered from our experiences.

Start with goals

It’s a huge undertaking to weed out years of accumulated treasures. Establish a plan before you begin.

  • How much time do you need?
  • Who is available to help?
  • Who can contribute labor, resources, or finances?
  • What services will you need to help?
  • What housing type will be best for you or your parent?

Family assistance

Family members are often spread across the country (and further) and may not be readily available, or interested, in helping. Inform everyone of the planning process and request their feedback. Who is able to visit? How much is everyone willing to contribute—physically and financially?

Who gets what?

Before you donate, recycle, or throw away anything, begin with an inventory review. Every family has something of sentimental or monetary value and it is best to establish who wants what in advance to reduce or eliminate family friction. Once treasures have been claimed, move across the family tree. There may be a college student, a newlywed couple, a divorcee, or new parents that may need the items your parent is eliminating.

Also Read: Downsizing: What To Do With All Your Stuff

Hire experts

House cleaning crews, yard care providers, and handymen are experts that can help with various tasks. My mother hired a cleaning lady who helped pack boxes.

Find volunteer help

Community, church, or scouting groups may offer volunteers to pack or haul donated items. Make sure they are reputable service providers to avoid theft or other problems.

Recycle, donate, and throw away

Recycling: many cities and states offer a wide range of recycling services. Earth Day events (occurring in April) offer opportunities to recycle and donate a vast assortment of items. Search your area to find local recycling resources.

Donation Centers: schools, churches, homeless shelters, animal shelters, nursing homes, non-profit organizations, and civic organizations have an ongoing need for donated items. Contact these for their latest requests. My mother donated her baby grand piano to a local nursing home. The nursing home was ecstatic to receive such a gift and Mom was thrilled to find a happy home for the piano.

General Advice to help parents downsize:

  • Gentle, steady pressure is best. Getting angry or demanding will cause harm, create tension, and slow progress.
  • Work within a parent’s physical ability: the process is emotionally & physically draining. Help set goals and offer to help as often as possible.
  • Let parents make as many decisions as possible. They’re already emotionally involved; giving them the lead will lessen the heartache.
  • Get out of the acquisition phase and into the thinning phase sooner rather than later. Discuss with parents who will acquire their stuff or what they would like done with it once they are no longer around. This is a good exercise for all of us.

Downsizing a household will stir up a lot of emotions for everyone involved, but the sooner you discuss the process and plan, the easier it will be when it occurs.

Other Related Posts;

The following two tabs change content below.
Kristen Reed Edens is a content developer, blogger, entrepreneur, grandparent and caregiver. She’s the founder of the blog and community, Grandparents in Business, where she shares stories and solutions for those living in the Sandwich Generation.