The move to a senior care option like residential assisted living is an exciting milestone that points to a fulfilling new stage of retirement. It makes possible a lifestyle full of self-discovery, social opportunities and external support. It also eliminates the isolation and daily burdens that accompany living alone. While the benefits of this milestone abound, they can only be achieved with the initiative of making the move – one that will require the new resident to part with a varying degree of their belongings.
Downsizing is an all but inevitable step towards a better life in senior living, but it commonly serves as a barrier for seniors along the way. It may cause them to delay making the move or even resist it entirely, and this aversion is not difficult to understand. The older we get, the more belongings we accumulate, and the ones we keep generally have either functional or sentimental value that makes them difficult to part with. What’s more, seniors who have lived through leaner times may be even more attached to the things they own. Therefore, their children or loved ones need to have a plan in place. This will help make the downsizing process as manageable as possible for everyone involved. Here are 7 tips to make the process easier.
Be patient. This is arguably the most important thing to remember before and during the downsizing process. Resistance to letting things go often comes from a place of emotion rather than logic. It is a personal experience to them that you may not understand. You may feel exasperated by your loved one’s desire not to part with certain belongings. Instead of being short or critical, take a few deep breaths and try to empathize.
Be proactive. Downsizing becomes increasingly time sensitive as the need for senior living becomes more important to your loved one’s health and wellbeing. The earlier you can begin the conversation, the better.
Ease into the process. Springing a sudden large-scale purge on your loved one can be jarring – or even traumatic. Start by suggesting a few belongings at a time, things you know they are not attached to, like unused pieces of furniture with no sentimental value.
Resell items. Using Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to sell items can contribute to senior living costs. It can also help your loved one feel like the item is going to good use or finding a new home instead of simply being thrown away.
Celebrate sentimental belongings. You may be highly motivated to get rid of belongings, but don’t overlook what they mean to your loved one. Listen to what they have to say and suggest taking pictures of these special items so they won’t be forgotten.
Create a “revisit” pile. In addition to your “keep” and “donate” piles, add a “revisit” pile to reassess at a later time. When the decision is black and white, your loved one may freeze and default to keeping it or prolong the decision on each item.
Stay positive. Downsizing can create feelings of loss, so be sure to keep the mood positive and remind them of all the great things their new life can provide.
If you have more questions about how to help your aging loved one downsize, call Heartfelt Residential Care today at (800) 379-3860.