10 Tips for Downsizing and Moving a Senior Loved One

10 Tips for Downsizing and Moving a Senior Loved One

Many seniors choose to downsize their homes during their retirement years. Downsizing might mean moving into an independent senior living community in Michigan or relocating from a larger house to a smaller one. Either way, downsizing one’s home and belongings can be a challenging process.

Here are some tips that can help your senior loved one as they downsize and prepare for a move.

10 Tips to Help a Michigan Senior Downsize

1. Get rid of clutter

World-renowned organization expert and author Marie Kondo says if your belongings don’t “spark joy,” then it’s time to say goodbye to them. Encourage your loved one to start making lists of what belongings they will keep and what will need to find a new home.

2. Sell or donate unwanted items

It’s tempting to throw away things that your loved one no longer wants or needs, but there’s probably someone else who can use them. The Internet makes it easy to sell things online, and anything that doesn’t sell can likely be donated. Many charities will even arrange to pick up the unwanted items, making the process of downsizing a bit easier.

3. Start packing sooner rather than later

Unfortunately, houses can’t pack up themselves. Unless the move is being completed in the midst of an emergency, try to take time to carefully go through belongings. This will help you decide what goes and what stays—without breaking or misplacing anything of importance to your senior loved one.

4. Secure prized possessions

There are certain things your family member won’t be willing to give up, whether because of sentimental reasons or monetary value. Consider moving anything that fits either of those categories to a secure location so that it is not lost or accidentally discarded during the move.

5. Think about life in the new place

Remember, when downsizing from a house to a condo or apartment, certain chores like shoveling snow in the winter and yard work in the spring will be eliminated. Encourage your loved one to have a yard sale to clear out that garage or storage shed. Then watch how quickly someone will snap up an unwanted lawn mower or snow blower at a good price!

6. Stay organized

Downsizing and preparing for a move can be a long process. Your loved one might have to put some items in storage for a while. Be sure to label boxes clearly and create a master list of what is in each box. When moving day comes, it will make it much easier to find everything.

7. Consider the layout of the new home

As your loved one downsizes his or her belongings, remind them to keep the new home’s layout in mind. Will it hold all of his or her current furniture? What is the storage space like? Creating a floor plan of the new home will help in deciding which things will fit and which ones won’t.

8. Try not to buy anything new – for now

This, of course, doesn’t apply to food and basic living necessities, but it does refer to things like furniture, appliances, and home décor. Encourage your loved one to save any shopping sprees until he or she is settled into the new place so as not to add to the packing duties.

9. Take a trip down memory lane

Packing for a move often means going through old photos and belongings that may evoke powerful memories. Allow your loved one some time to reflect on the past, particularly if the memories are happy ones.

10. Focus on what matters most

As a retiree, your loved one now has more time to focus on hobbies and other interests. Keep this in mind as you help them downsize. What might seem like a box of dusty old books to you may be a source of great joy to your loved one. Remember to keep their interests in mind—not yours—when packing for the big move.

Your senior loved one might be leaving behind some wonderful memories in their old home. It may be necessary to remind your family member that new adventures await them!


Photo Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net


What Does “Aging in Place” Mean?

Dear Donna,

My mother is 82 years old and living at home. We have recently begun discussing assisted living and other senior living community options in case she needs them in the future. Mom is currently in good health, and she has stated that she would very much prefer to stay in the same house she has lived in for the past 50 years.

I want to make sure she is both happy and comfortable when it comes to her future living arrangements. I’ve heard of the phrase “aging in place.” Can you explain what that means, and whether it might be an option for my mother?


Debra in Dearborn

Is Aging in Place a Viable Option

Dear Debra,

I’m glad that you and your mother are being proactive about her future needs. It’s always a good idea to start early when exploring senior living options in Michigan—even if though your mom’s goal is to remain living in her own home.

The Centers for Disease Control define the term “aging in place” as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

Many seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes during their retirement years, as the familiar environment provides a great deal of comfort to them. This could very well be a viable option for your mother, provided you give some thought to a few important issues.

Is her house senior friendly?

You mentioned that your mom is in good health, which can make it much easier for her to stay in her current location. However, it’s important to consider that there might come a day when she is not as healthy or as mobile as she is now. If she lives in large, multi-story home, it will make moving around much harder than if she were in a single-level home or perhaps an apartment or condo. This is why many seniors opt to downsize their homes during their retirement years, choosing smaller layouts that allow for better accessibility.

If your mother doesn’t like the idea of giving up her home, then take a realistic look at her current residence. It might be possible to make some home renovations that will make living in the same space both easier and safer for your mother, such as installing a shower instead of a tub in the bathroom for more accessible bathing.

Do family members live nearby?

Aging in place becomes a much more viable option when your loved one has a support network nearby. If you or other family members live in the area, then it might be possible for you to take turns checking in on your mom on a regular basis.

If family doesn’t live nearby, you may be able to enlist the support of an in-home care aide to visit your mother for regular wellness checks. It might also be a good idea to hire a housekeeping service to help with keeping your mother’s home clean and organized.

Additionally, a local church or nonprofit organization might have volunteers willing to help out with things like shoveling snow or running errands.

What type of budget does your mother have?

Keep in mind that the expenses associated with providing all of these services can add up to be more than it would cost for your mother to move to a senior living community. So it’s important that you have an open and honest discussion about finances when you are creating a plan for the future.

Aging in place can be a good option for seniors, provided there is enough support in place to make staying at home a convenience rather than a burden. I hope this information is helpful, Debra! Good luck to you and your mom.