Once your elderly parents have made the decision to downsize, for whatever reason, we have put together a checklist to make it as easy as it can be.
Start as soon as you can
Don’t under-estimate the emotional trauma such a move brings. Once the decision to move is taken start talking about the need to reduce belongings as soon as possible and start making lists and filling bags and boxes with things which can be passed on.
Take a hard look at location
If you or other family live far from your parents, it may be time to look at them moving closer, despite the upheaval of leaving familiar territory and friends.
Consider long-term health and care needs and try to encourage your parents to move somewhere that will accommodate potential future needs – such as level access, walk-in showers, proximity to shops, GP, public transport. You don’t want to have to repeat the process any time soon.
Plan what will go where in the new home
What goes/comes with them is really difficult – both practically and emotionally; less is definitely more, and you don’t want to be doing another cull once you get to their new home and find they have too much or furniture is too big and won’t fit.
Keep things in the family
Encourage your parents to pass precious furniture, pictures, stuff, which they no longer have space for on to their children and grand-children now, or at least to ask if anyone in the family would like it. It does lessen the wrench of letting go if someone you love gets to benefit.
The move itself
There are removal companies which specialise in moving older people; but whoever you choose, it’s really helpful if they can do everything – from packing everything at the old house – to helping your parents unpack boxes in the new house, otherwise you definitely need to be there too to lend practical as well as emotional support.
Don’t under-estimate the emotional trauma such a move brings (yes, we’ve said it twice)! Find allies and support amongst siblings, aunts, uncles, friends of your parents, anyone who can help them make the really hard decisions.
We have one family’s downsizing story in our blog, which may be useful. You might also be thinking of alternatives including your elderly parents moving in with you.
Do you have experience of helping elderly relatives or friends downsize? What are your top tips? Share your experience or see others’ advice in our Age Space Forum.