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Make downsizing a step up for the senior in your life

Seniors have specific challenges that we often don’t think about when we’re younger. One of those is downsizing. Often, after the kids are grown and have moved out or a larger home just becomes too much to manage, seniors opt for smaller living spaces. This transition can prove stressful for all concerned, but especially the senior homeowner. Here are some ways you can help ease that move from big to small.

Strategize – This is the first step after the downsizing decision is made. Think about reasons for downsizing and formulate goals with the senior homeowner. Reasons could include financial, accessibility, health, proximity to family, maintenance or something else. Set goals that match the reasons. Would a one-level, two-bedroom home three miles from the grandchildren work well if it had wheelchair accessibility? Or would a condo be a better option? Is assisted living the best choice? Don’t make any decisions before you have a strategy.

Bring in the pros – You have your expertise, and others have theirs. Get a team of professionals behind you to help ease the transition for everyone concerned. Start with a good real estate agent to help with selling and buying. Be sure the agent is familiar with senior moves and up-to-date on communities that support seniors. Ask people you trust for recommendations on lenders and moving companies that are experienced in downsizing.

Manage the process – As a loved one of the senior who is downsizing, it can be difficult to hand over the reins to someone else. But sometimes, it’s better to let a third-party oversee the details. Timing the move, changing over utilities, notifying doctors and others of the new address, organizing packing, etc. can become overwhelming. Consider hiring a transition specialist or moving manager to coordinate the many aspects that go into moving.

Get prepped – Downsizing isn’t just about packing and shipping, unpacking and organizing. It’s about acclimating to a life in a new setting. Help your senior loved one by preparing them for what to expect. Talk about emotions and concerns. Get a plan of the smaller home and draw out where belongings will go. This will help determine what needs to be given away, as well as help the senior homeowner adapt emotionally and physically.

Respect belongings Downsizing usually means you can’t keep everything, but that doesn’t mean everything should get tossed. Once you have helped your senior homeowner separate items into keep/give away/sell/throw away, pack what is going. Then ask your senior to give family members opportunity to take what they like. After, get ready to donate, but remember that selling some items could be a viable option, too. When it does come time to donate, be sure to let your senior help decide where.

Set up to settle in – Don’t let your senior move into chaos. Before they arrive to the new home on moving day, set up as much as possible. Make sure the main living spaces are inhabitable and recognizable, especially if there are memory issues. Put things in familiar arrangements and intuitive places. Make rooms attractive and practical. Remind your senior homeowner that they can rearrange things if they want so they feel comfortable but empowered.

Downsizing doesn’t have to be a depressing life event if handled correctly. A little planning, a lot of patience and tons of TLC will help you relocate your loved one to a place they can enjoy calling home.

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care, serving Prince William and Fauquier counties.

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