All of us have had to move for one reason or another. From the college freshman who’s living away from home for the first time to the young adult in their first apartment to the couple about to become homeowners, moving is an integral part of our lives. While it can be an exciting experience in many ways, It’s also one of the most overwhelming experiences, too.
Sorting, packing, unpacking, rearranging and acclimating to a new place. None of those moving activities are fun. In fact, they’re pretty stressful. However, if you think those things are no fun at your current age, imagine how much more difficult they will be when you’re a senior.
When seniors have to downsize and relocate to a new home, all of that sorting, packing, unpacking and acclimating to a new environment aren’t just physically exhausting – they’re mentally and emotionally taxing, too. Seniors are just assessing and packing objects; they’re reflecting on a lifetime of memories and experiences. To them, the move doesn’t signify the start of a new beginning. To them, decluttering, downsizing and moving to a smaller home, apartment or their adult child’s home is the beginning of the end.
If your elderly parents refuse to downsize and move into a more suitable residence, please understand that you’re not alone. This experience is quite common for most families. However, with equal parts patience, empathy and planning, you can help make this phase of your senior parents or relatives lives more pleasant for everyone.
To help your senior loved ones successfully organize their belongings and relocate to their new residence simply follow these helpful steps.
Start Cleaning and Organizing Early
If your aging parents haven’t reached the point when they need to downsize, you can help them get a head start on the organizing process now – without having to approach the subject of moving in the near future.
Help them with their spring or fall cleaning. Use this as an opportunity to help them take stock of their possessions. In the guise of everyday cleaning and sorting, they’ll often be more receptive to donating items they no longer need, shredding old paperwork and rearranging their layouts to be more organized, accommodating and less cluttered.
Then when the time comes when they have to move and downsize, they’ll already be prepared for the experience.
Make Seniors a Part of the Process
When adults try to help their aging parents or family members it often seems like a reversal of traditional roles. When the parent feels like the child it can be jarring and, in some cases, humiliating.
If a senior, especially one that is still capable of living independently, feels like they are losing control and/or being forced into a situation by their adult children, they may feel anger and resentment. This is especially true when the subject of downsizing and moving to a new home comes up. If an aging parent believes a child is trying to make their own life easier by forcing them to move and part with their possessions, they may dig their heels in even further.
To avoid this scenario, it’s best to include them in the downsizing process. Instead of cleaning, sorting, organizing and disposing of their belongings without their involvement, ask them to assist. Then, to make the situation less jarring, ask them to recall the stories associated with certain items as you pack them up for the move. This action makes the process feel more like a shared experience and less like an audit.
Show Seniors Respect
When you’re assisting your parents in their downsizing efforts, remember to keep their feelings in mind. What may seem like “stuff” to you, has value and meaning to them. Some items, even the smallest ones, may be high in sentimental value.
If they are having trouble parting with certain items, you can always suggest that they give these possessions to family members. Classifying these items as heirlooms can make parting with them much more manageable for your aging loved ones. It lets them know that their memories will remain with their families for years to come.
Moving and downsizing is never easy at any age. It’s especially difficult for seniors. However, the experience can be less difficult for everyone when you carry out the tasks with empathy, encouragement and compassion.
If your aging parents or family members have recently moved into a new residence and require home care, don’t feel you have to be the lone provider. Let the certified specialists at Keen Home Care lend a helpful hand.
Contact us today to learn more about our home care services for your aging loved ones.