As your parents grow older, you may notice that they don’t need as much space as they have in their current home. Sometimes too much space can pose a safety risk because chances are their home was designed for a younger family. If this is the case, it may be time for your parents to downsize to a home that is more suitable for their needs. It is a complicated and emotional process for a senior to leave the home that they’ve spent much of their life in, but with your help, they can realize that this is the best decision they could make. Here are a few tips to consider when helping your parents downsize.
Once you have gotten the okay from your parents to downsize, it is all too easy to become distracted by the many details of the moving process while shutting out their feelings and opinions. Keep in mind that this was a difficult decision for your parents to accept and right now, they need your support more than anything. Allow them to have a say in what belongings will be kept or discarded before the move and also allow them time to reminisce or grieve as they pack their things. Letting them express how they feel can help them cope, but it is important that you do not let them dwell in those emotions. Be a shoulder to lean on but also give them reasons to be excited and look forward to moving into their new home. Reinforce the positives; perhaps it’s closer to you and your family or near a nice park where they could take their morning walk. Giving them reasons to be happy about the move will make the transition smoother for all parties involved.
Although it is important to have your parents be a part of the moving process, you will need to hire movers because lifting and moving heavy boxes poses a health and safety risk for older adults. There are plenty of options for moving companies, so be sure to do your research, read reviews, and compare prices. The average cost of hiring movers is $25 an hour per man.
Some movers may construct a customized floor plan for the new home so your parents will be able to visualize where their belongings will fit. If your parents have special medical equipment or supplies, talk to the movers about ensuring that everything stays accessible and undamaged during the move. Arrange for any unwanted goods to be disposed of by way of estate sale, consignment, buyout, or donation.
Make the new place feel like home
The best way you can ease your parents into their new home is to make it feel as familiar as possible. This is a key factor when relocating older adults, so be sure the first few belongings that are unpacked are some of their favorite things. Hang portraits on the walls and drape their favorite throw blanket over the couch. Keep in mind that the more it looks like home, the easier the emotional transition will be for them.
You’ll also need to take into account whether their new home needs any modifications so that they can age in place. This can include anything from adding grab bars or non-slip flooring to doing a full-scale kitchen or bathroom remodel. Just remember that costs can add up quickly (e.g., a bathroom remodel in nearby Denver can cost up to $20,000), so make sure that any modifications are within their budget
Downsizing may be met with some resistance by your parents, but as long as you manage to keep the process simple and give them as much support as they need, they will begin to embrace the next phase in their journey of life.