Moving is stressful at any age, but relocating as a senior can be particularly taxing —especially if it involves leaving a home filled with items accumulated over a lifetime. Helping an elderly relative downsize is big responsibility, often peppered with emotion and tough decisions. Here are a few ways you can make the sorting and decluttering process a little easier for both you and your loved one.

1. Map it out

Before you start hauling items to Goodwill, discuss the decluttering process with your loved one. Our Senior Relocations staff can also provide advice on space planning and downsizing. Look at a floor map of the new space and discuss any concerns your relative might have. Remember to always to be respectful — the possessions in their house are more than just “things.” They represent decades of accomplishments, interests, memories and goals.

2. Start big
Start by evaluating the large pieces — desks, couches, armchairs, armoires and so on. This will provide a foundation for what other items should or shouldn’t make the move and will give you both a sense of accomplishment. If all items won’t fit in the new space, ask your loved one what pieces are most functional. Maybe a desk has sat unused for years or a side table has become a haven for old mail. Don’t forget that many local charities, like Goodwill, will pick up hard-to-move pieces. Call to find out if this service is available at your location.

3. Don’t rush!
Dedicate as much time as possible to the downsizing process. Decluttering can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so schedule short breaks throughout the day. A short walk or lunch break will help reduce stress and give you quality time together.

4. Talk before you toss
In an effort to get the job done, it might be tempting to get rid of possessions without first checking with your loved one. But the last thing you want to do is throw away something truly meaningful to them. While not every possession can make the move, give them the opportunity to reminisce before parting with items. (This is also why allotting ample time for the process is crucial.) If they are resistant to purging an unused possession that simply won’t fit into their new lifestyle, try reiterating how the item will be donated to someone in need. Knowing that a possession will bring joy to others is often a catalyst for letting go.

And don’t forget – our seasoned experts can assist at every step of the way! Learn more about our Senior Relocations services here.

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