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Tips & Options to Consider When Helping Aging Parents Downsize Their Home or Furnishings

Is simply downsizing the only move to consider? Is it the right solution for you? Weigh your options. Consider what your underlying reasons are to make such a difficult move as this because it is better to make that move only once. 

If you are really honest with yourself, aging maybe starting to affect one’s quality of life. Aging will eventually affect all of us and to keep up with “things” eventually gets more difficult. So does swapping size sufficiently and efficiently address that “elephant in the room” – the aging process? 

Let’s address two appropriate options and which option may be the better one considering your specific reasons for wanting to downsize. Downsizing can be a great consideration as the first option when your children have moved out and your health is relatively good;  or you want to travel more; or you are not entertaining as much;  or you are just tired of the expense and upkeep. One would simply be moving to a smaller place with less to deal with.   

Downsizing would appear to be the answer but it may not be the best option, especially when health related aging in place issues are being ignored or masked. So let’s take a closer look and address downsizing when the real issues are health related issues.

Navigating A Challenging Season

When an aging parent needs extra help, it can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved. But it’s important to remember that this is a season in your parents’ lives.

While it may be difficult to talk about, it’s important to have a frank discussion with your parents about their future plans. This will help you understand their thinking and give you an opportunity to share your thoughts and concerns.

And while it may be challenging, there are ways to make the process easier for both you and your parents. Whether you are looking at assisted living or are considering your parent aging in their home there are steps you can take to ensure the process is smooth or at least safe in their home. 

Let’s talk first about safety considerations. I received a call one day from an elderly lady living alone in an apartment near us and she was exploring the option of assisted living. During our discussion she made it clear to me that she was not ready yet and that she had only fallen three times! Contrast this with another call I received from a daughter looking for an assisted living for her father and that he was recuperating in the hospital after he had fallen in his home and remained on the floor for three days! I lost contact with the elderly lady, I don’t know what had happened to her but the elderly gentleman moved in and lived happily with us for years and the daughter achieved “peace of mind”.

While we are on the safety issue, here is a list of safety concerns and issues that I have encountered over the years: falls, eating poorly or having spoiled food, leaving the stove on and burning the food and pot, leaving the water running, overloading electrical wall outlets with multiple adapters, tripping or slipping hazards such as spilled water, shoes, rugs, and phone cords. What about scam phone calls or strangers stopping by? One elderly lady that I knew was scammed of $30,000  in a parking lot trying to help a “friend” that was told of. The list goes on. Scary? You bet. I can also tell you first hand stories from families about their parent lying or hiding from them the real challenges they were having. Eventually it becomes evident, downsizing to a smaller home in these cases will not adequately address health relate aging issues. Let’s begin … 

an elderly couple packs cardboard boxes -Tips and Options to Consider When Helping Aging Parents Downsize Their Home or Furnishings

Having the Conversation about Downsizing

1. Communicate Clearly and Early

It’s also important to communicate early on in the process. This will help avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings down the road and may open up a realistic dialogue.

Ask questions that offer insight into their thinking. For example, you might ask:

  • What worries you most about the future?
  • What would make you feel most comfortable as you get older?
  • What are your thoughts on moving to a smaller home or an assisted living?
  • How can I help you in this process?

Remember to listen to your parents’ answers without judgment. They may have different ideas about what they want than you do. But as long as you’re able to communicate openly and respect each other’s wishes, you’ll be able to work together to find a solution that works for everyone.

2. Get Organized and Be Efficient

Once you’ve decided to help your parents downsize, it’s important to be organized and efficient in your approach. This will make the process less overwhelming for everyone involved.

Start by making a list of everything that needs to be done. This may include packing up their belongings, sorting through paperwork, or arranging for movers. Then, create a timeline for each task.

If you can, delegate some of the work to other family members or friends. This will help lighten your load and make the process go more smoothly. Don’t be afraid to bring in a network of supportive people to help!

3. Respect Your Parents’ Wishes

Throughout the downsizing process, it’s essential to respect your parents’ wishes. They may have strong feelings about what they want to keep and what they’re willing to let go of.

If your parents struggle to make decisions, gently encourage them to focus on their favorite belongings. What items bring them joy? What has sentimental value?

Help them narrow down their choices by asking questions like:

  • Do you use this item regularly?
  • Do you have room for it in your new home?
  • Is there someone else in the family who would appreciate having this item?

Ultimately, the decision of what to keep and what to let go of should be up to your parents. They know their own belongings best, and they’re the ones who will have to live with the consequences of their decisions. If they are looking to move to a New Orleans assisted living residence, you can help them transition smoothly by staying honest and transparent.

4. Be Patient and Compassionate

The downsizing process can be stressful and emotional for everyone involved. So it’s important to be patient and compassionate with your parents – and with yourself.

Try to take breaks when you start to feel overwhelmed. And don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. There are many resources available to families going through this process, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Remember, this is a season in your parents’ lives and with a little bit of patience and understanding, you’ll all get through it together.

5. Communicate If Moving To A New Location

If you’re considering downsizing to a smaller home or an assisted living facility, it’s essential to communicate your plans with your parents. This will help them understand your thinking and allow them to share their thoughts and concerns.

Remember to listen to your parents’ input during this process. They may have different ideas about where they want to live or what type of care they need. But as long as you’re able to communicate openly and respect each other’s wishes, you’ll be able to find a solution that works for everyone.

elderly couple sitting on sofa in living room looking at tablet

Should My Parent Move or Age In Place?

When it comes to downsizing, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It ultimately depends on your parent’s individual needs and preferences and of course appropriate health care for their aging in place issues; which is the most important consideration for their health, safety and well-being.

With that being said, some parents may prefer to stay in their current home as they get older regardless of safety or health concerns. Some prefer to move to a smaller home when things get challenging, and they will minimize or ignore their health issues. Some may utilize in-home services as they try to maintain piecemeal services which are usually a temporary option if minimal care and minimal supervision are warranted. 

 Some will wonder if the downsizing process will actually solve the problem it’s meant to address. Will their parents be happier and more comfortable in a smaller home? Or will they simply be trading one set of problems for another?

Assisted living can give them the support they need as they age and they can enjoy a better quality of life all around with friends, socialization, nutritious food and at St. Francis Villa, monitoring and appropriate care.  Downsizing can be a big change, so it’s important to give them the time and space and help them to ensure they make the appropriate decision for themselves considering their circumstances.

At St. Francis Villa Assisted Living, we know how difficult it can be to downsize. We can provide you and your parents with the appropriate support needed as they age in place. It is not about the real estate, it is about the relationships and experiences to enjoy.

We are excited to offer our services for residents across the New Orleans area, River Ridge, Harahan, Metairie and Kenner. We look forward to helping you and your family through this transition! So get the help you need and deserve at  St. Francis Villa Assisted Living in River Ridge, LA. For more information about our services, contact us today.

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