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Too Much Stuff: The Art of Downsizing as Parents Age

A rite of passage for many aging parents is downsizing, frequently as part of a move to a smaller, more manageable space. Adult children often play a key role as effective managers of the downsizing effort. However, anyone who has played this role knows there are challenges, and many have nothing at all to do with logistics.

As a leading provider of home care in Annapolis, we know how important a senior’s home can be. Committed to helping seniors age in place, we know that downsizing is often necessary to help promote safety at home and want to discuss some of the difficult emotions triggered in some seniors by the downsizing process, plus tips for their resolution.

Downsizing Can Be Difficult

Downsizing should bring feelings of relief and make life easier for your aging parent, but it often doesn’t feel that way in the beginning. You end up rummaging through items that stir half-forgotten memories – the necklace you fought over years ago; that old battered box of photographs from before the war; the dusty remains of a puzzle from your childhood. The list goes on and on.

This is where some aging adults begin to resent or resist the downsizing process. Seeing their belongings disposed of can trigger a strong sense of loss, verging on panic for some. A tendency to deem odd, seemingly useless things as “essential” creeps in and the process can become lengthy and frustrating for those trying to help.

Advice for Caregivers

Before you start piling and filing, consider that your parent may have a part of their identity wrapped up in these old things. Letting go is painful no matter how old you are. A gentle approach is in order; you may need to take it slow, talking things out as you proceed. Be ready to compromise on what is ‘essential,’ but don’t get bogged down in lengthy reminiscences. See the process through to the end.

Emphasize how nice it will be to clear out items that serve only to clutter the space. The more unnecessary belongings are pruned out, the easier it will be to enjoy what really matters. Also, see if you can repurpose certain items. An aging parent or loved one may feel better knowing their belongings are going to a good cause. Whether it’s donating old clothes to the local thrift store, passing on old furniture to a family in need or handing down a cherished belonging to a grandchild, try being creative in how to give your loved one’s stuff new purpose and life.

Ensuring Safety After Downsizing

If you are concerned about your aging parent or loved one and their ability to live safely at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Annapolis today. We are a leading provider of hourly and live-in home care in Annapolis with a team of highly trained caregivers who can provide assistance and monitoring 24/7. In addition to a careful home evaluation, we will evaluate your loved one’s current abilities and needs to create a tailored care plan that promotes safety and independence.

To request free information or a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about our care services, contact a Care Manager at 443-302-2771. Our phone lines are open 24/7 to answer questions – we look forward to hearing from you!