How Do I Start Downsizing My Dad’s Home During My Holiday Visit?

How Do I Start Downsizing My Dad’s Home During My Holiday Visit?

Dear Donna:

I’ll be in Michigan to visit my dad for a few weeks during the holidays. When I visited over the summer, we decided it was time for him to start preparing for a move. While we discussed downsizing to a condominium, we finally agreed that a senior living community might be better.

When I’m back next March, we plan to look for senior living communities that offer independent and assisted living. That way he can enjoy an independent living apartment while having peace of mind that help is available if and when he needs it.

Since my visit will be longer than usual over the holidays, my dad and I thought it might be a good idea to get started. We want to tackle some of the downsizing we’ll need to finish before he moves. He is still living in the large house that he and my mom raised all five of us children in. They weren’t always great about getting rid of things, and he’s been especially bad since she passed away two years ago. So, we have a big job ahead of us.

Do you have any suggestions for how I can get this process started? I don’t want to disrupt his house too much since he will likely be there until May or June. But I think I need to take advantage of the free time we’ll have when I’m in town.


Lisa (and my dad, Steve) in Sutton’s Bay, MI

Downsizing a Senior’s Home & Preparing for a Move to Senior Living

Dear Lisa and Steve:

It sounds like you have a solid timeline for your anticipated move, so you are off to a good start! Downsizing is one of the biggest challenges families face, especially for older adults who’ve lived in their house for many years.

Here are a few tips that might give you a head start on moving without being too disruptive for the remainder of the winter and spring:

  • Start in the rooms least often used: Since you mentioned five kids grew up in your parents’ house, I’m betting there is a lot of childhood memorabilia left behind. It might be good to begin your clean-up efforts in rooms storing these items. It’s usually a good idea to set up different boxes and label them by their ultimate destination. For example, “Charity,” “Family,” or “Other.” You’ll likely need some big trash bags, too. As you make your way through each room, toss items into these boxes or the trash. This is a good system to help you work your way through every room.
  • Make decisions about furniture: Most independent living apartments are smaller than a senior’s current home. I’m sure that will be the case for your dad since he’s coming from a big house. It might be a good time to walk through the house and think about what furniture will move with him and what will need to find a new owner. If he has valuable antiques, it might be worthwhile to host an estate sale or to try to sell them online. You can also find out what charities nearby might arrange to pick up furniture and other large household items he will no longer need.
  • Consider hiring a senior move manager: Because it sounds like you live far from your father, one more suggestion is to hire a senior move manager. These professionals help handle all of the details of a transition to a senior living community from assisting with the packing process to hiring the movers. They could keep the downsizing process moving during the winter when you won’t be there.

Finally, one more resource you might find helpful is “10 Tips for Downsizing and Moving a Senior Loved One.”

Kind regards,


Visit a Heritage Community in Michigan During the Holidays

The holidays are a great time to schedule a tour of a senior living community. The hustle and bustle of the season combined with the festive decorations make these communities feel especially inviting. We extend an open invitation to families to call a Heritage community and set up a time to stop by!