Help Your Senior Loved One Downsize and Stay Independent


Many seniors are unable to stay independent in their family homes. Perhaps the space is simply too large. Or, the layout is not conducive to their particular mobility issues. Maybe they can no longer afford the upkeep on their fixed income. Whatever the reason, the benefits of downsizing are great. Seniors can often find true happiness and independence by downsizing – both in terms of their possessions and their living space. Here are some ways you can help them through the process.

House hunting 101: focus on size, layout and location

For older adults who seek to downsize and age in place, their new home must suit their current and future needs. You can help them find the perfect home by focusing on their size, layout, and location needs. For example, your loved one may need a one-story home close to where you live, or a home with a small outdoor space with easy ramp access and close proximity to their church. Finding the right downsized home is not a cookie-cutter experience.

Remember: Don’t OVER-downsize. Your loved one needs to have enough room to live and entertain guests.

Start by researching online to get a sense of the average prices of homes that are in the size, style and location range for the home your loved one needs. For example, homes in Houston, Texas, have sold on average for $217,000 in the last month, according to Redfin).

Know your loved one’s exact spatial requirements

Take inventory of what possessions your loved one must take to their new home, how many rooms they will need, and make sure everything has a specific place in whatever downsized space you settle on. Once you have a solid idea of their spatial requirements, you can begin to use the new home’s layout as a guide for what and how much to downsize.

Be stern but gentle when downsizing their stuff

It’s vital that you hold your loved one’s hand throughout the material downsizing effort. As a senior, it’s emotionally taxing to part with your belongings. You have to be the guiding force behind their tough decisions, but remember to be patient.

One solid tip is to promote donation over trashing. A senior is much more likely to be able to part with something if they know it’s not going in the garbage. Institute a 10/10/10 rule where your loved one must donate 10 items and throw away 10 items for every 10 items they take with them to their new home. Also, consider a storage unit for many of their items they can’t take with them, but also can’t part with. It’s a sensible and reasonably priced solution. The overall average price of a self-storage unit booked in Houston, Texas, over the past 180 days is $82.66.

Pack smart

Did you know there is an art to proper packing? One of the best ways to help your loved one through this process is to do most of their packing for them. Before you do that, make sure you know how to do it right. For example, don’t mix items from different rooms in one box. Don’t put heavy items in larger boxes. Always clearly label every box. And always pack an “open first” box that is easily accessible and filled with your loved one’s necessities (medication, toiletries, etc.).

You’re now ready for the big move! Help your loved one through the final stages by hiring a reputable moving company. Be sure to research online first to determine the best prices of homes that are the right size and in the location where your senior loved one desires to move.

The process of finding a good home for them, making sure they will be safe and comfortable, helping to get rid of their excess stuff and getting everything packed up and moved is stressful on both you and your loved one. The end goal of this tough and lengthy process is true independence for your loved one, so it’s all worth it!

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash