Senior Home Care Blog - Northeastern Illinois

Tips for Helping Seniors Downsize

By Tom Merlin

Tips for Helping Seniors Downsize

Downsizing is necessary at some point….

Doing a deep clean is never easy, but when you have to clean out a lifetime of stuff from your older parent or loved one, the stress increases. How do you know how to tackle all the memories and tangible items collected over the years? To start, change your outlook to one of enjoyment as you go through things with precious memories attached. You will learn new things about your relatives and hopefully hear some delightful stories from your senior loved one who lived through all the pictures.

Helpful Tips for Downsizing Clutter

As people age, it’s natural to want to keep memories and treasured items close by. It reminds them of days gone by and gives them a feeling of legacy. It is certainly a time-consuming task to see thousands of pictures and other items in various boxes. Sorting through it all can emotionally taxing and physically draining. However, if downsizing is to occur, you must help your senior loved one tackle this task. Instead of dreading it, why not have some fun and learn from them as they tell the story behind special items! Here are some tips to get you started….

1. Be leisurely about it. Realize that it won’t be a quick project, so don’t set your expectations too high. You can’t go through a lifetime of stuff in one day! Pick a box and allow them to handle everything and make decisions at their own pace. One box at a time is the name of the game here.

2. Make sure the senior has a sense of control during the downsizing process.
The more they can help and direct, the more confident they will feel. If they are not honored in this way, it could result in feelings of loss and depression.

3. Cherish the memories. This is the fun part! Go through pictures and memorabilia slowly and allow them to tell stories and share memories attached to those things. Learn all you can from them because you never know how long they will be around to tell these stories! Write things down, such as where and when pictures were taken, and record special life events.

4. Pass down heirlooms. Allow seniors to give items to certain family members and friends. As they pass down things to the next generation, the feeling of nostalgia will be very special and they will be able to see how much this means to the recipient! Not only will it be a special gift, but it also avoids the in-fighting that sometimes happens when family members fight over who inherits what.

5. If you’re sensing difficulty in deciding what to let go of, ask your senior loved ones these questions to help them out:

How often is this item used?
Is quality of life increased with this item?
Is it practical to keep this item? (i.e., making sure it fits in the home, etc.)
Does the item have monetary value?

Moving always seems to be a fantastic opportunity to deep clean, declutter and organize. It’s no different for seniors, but they will need your help! If the senior in your life is dealing with dementia or early Alzheimer’s, start documenting stories and memories as often as you can. Most seniors with dementia don’t struggle with long-term memory, so they will still be able to share their stories from yesteryear with you. Enjoy it. Savor each moment. Live, laugh and love. You’ll be glad you did!

For more information on helping seniors downsize their possessions, call us today!