A funny thing happens as our parents get older – WE are getting older too! While you likely spent decades trying to ignore their best-intentioned advice, asking for help when you needed it most and appreciating that ever-present shoulder to cry on – there comes a point as we age when tables are turned. In no situation is this more apparent than when helping a parent downsize. The struggle is real as you help mom or dad face mountains of memories amidst even more mountains of stuff.
Before you even ask ‘Where do I start?!’ – we’d like to share just ‘How do I start?!’ with the ‘3 P’s of Downsizing’. While your exact timeline and process will vary by your own situation, these tips will benefit virtually any family at any point along the way.
The 3 P’s Of Downsizing
No matter how hard you try – there will come a point where you want to declare ‘just do it!”. Whether you are tired of mom dragging her feet at emptying the old dining room hutch or dreading asking your dad to clean out the garage again, take a deep breath and practice patience in the present. While some of the stressors your parents are facing may seem silly, put yourself in their shoes and review the situation again. If one task just isn’t going well, try coming back to it another day and changing strategies or asking for help. One room a day may not be realistic, but try mutually agreeable goals instead. ‘Hey Mom, how about we compile three boxes for the Salvation Army today?!’. Celebrate small victories knowing combined they lead to big results!
Parents who are amidst the downsizing process often feel a loss of control. They may be moving by choice (or not), and regardless may wish things were different or easier. Try to give them control by setting expectations and helping them process what the next steps will be. Let them pick a charity that unwanted items can go to; ask them what a reasonable timeline for caring for each area of the home will be and try to prepare them to have a plan – with wiggle room for the unexpected. But some action plan is always better than feeling lost amidst the chaos, right?!
The most difficult message to send to a parent who is facing a lifestyle change is that just because things will be different in their new surroundings, does NOT mean they will be worse. Consider what your parent’s passions for life truly are, and keep those interests alive at the heart of the move. If the grandkids are mom’s life, make sure her fave pictures of them make the move with her and get unpacked first. If dad’s new apartment is near his favorite golf course, do not downsize that collection of clubs! Purge with a purpose, but pack with a passion!
As you strive to ensure your parents have the very best quality of life at any age, please know that we are here to support you in that effort. Feel free to let us know what you need and we’ll make it happen! (yes, it really IS that simple!)
All our best,
Julie & Helen