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How to Help Your Parents Downsize When It’s Time to Move

Life is full of transitions, but one of the most significant tasks you can take on is helping your aging parents downsize their home. Whether it’s for accessibility, safety, or simply convenience and affordability, downsizing is a milestone that can be intimidating for grown children of older parents.

From having too many belongings for their new home to even being reluctant to move, there are many hurdles your parents may present during the downsizing process.

Fortunately, you don’t have to face this life challenge alone. We’ve put together a guide of moving tips for downsizing. Learn how you can keep the peace (and your patience) as you help your parents downsize for their golden years—and how our storage units can help you do so with ease.

1. Have an honest conversation with your parents.

A man talking and laughing with his dad

If your parents are looking forward to downsizing, great! If they’re less than thrilled at the prospect, however, it can sour the entire process and potentially cause a rift between you and them.

Instead of dancing around the topic, set aside time with your parents to have a frank, but gentle discussion with them. The longer you wait to talk about downsizing, the older they’ll get, and the bigger the risk will be of in-home injuries.

It’s crucial that you clearly explain why you think it’s time for your parents to downsize. It could be related to their safety, or it could be about their happiness and overall well-being. There are many benefits to downsizing, such as:

  • Saving money on electricity and gas
  • Minimizing the risk of falls in a single-floor home
  • Moving closer to family and friends
  • Less time spent cleaning
  • Better home organization
  • More socializing (if they choose a retirement community setting)

The key takeaway should be not pressuring your parents to downsize too much or too soon. Take their perspective into consideration and try to handle the idea of downsizing the way you would want someone to handle it for you.

2. Create a timeline for your parents’ downsizing project.

Like any move, there are many factors to consider during a downsizing. In addition to the typical moving hardships, such as bad weather, transportation, and even just packing everything, you must think about how feasible your downsizing timeline is for your parents.

On average, the downsizing process takes about three months to prepare for. Depending on their physical and mental health, your parents may need less or more time than that for their move. Take your parents’ capabilities into account and plan the move accordingly. You should have answers for the following questions when planning out your downsizing timeline and to-do list:

  • When everything should be packed
  • What will happen to unwanted items (will they be sold, donated, etc.)
  • Who is in charge of getting rid of unwanted items
  • Who is responsible for packing
  • Who is responsible for transporting the belongings
  • What address-related items need to be updated (medications, bills, etc.)
  • Who will unpack the belongings
  • How will everything be organized in the new home

When in doubt, you can always take inspiration from a regular moving schedule and apply those principles to your extended downsizing process.

3. Help your parents declutter their current home.

Decluttering old belongings

In a perfect world, your parents could tote every bauble, trinket, and scrap of paper that holds some form of sentimental value wherever they move to. The price of downsizing, however, may include getting rid of some things Mom and Dad are still attached to.

Instead of getting tough with your parents and laying down the law on what should and shouldn’t be thrown out, try to be compassionate. Before you tell them to throw out ancient arts and crafts projects from your childhood, look around for other less emotionally connected items that you can get rid of.

One of our favorite moving tips? You should always try to eliminate duplicate items. Duplicate clothes, blankets, electronics, etc. often sneak past the downsizing process, continuing to needlessly take up space in your parents’ new home.

It may be because your parents like to be prepared, or they simply forget what they’ve purchased over the last few months. Regardless, you can create additional space by purging duplicates of the following items:

  • Linens
  • Furniture
  • Coats and jackets
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Sports gear
  • Tools
  • And more

4. Create an inventory for the downsizing move.

Keeping track of belongings during a regular move can be overwhelming enough without throwing aging memories into the mix. To prevent keepsakes, valuables, and other items from getting lost in the downsizing shuffle, make a detailed inventory of your parents’ belongings, and annotate which boxes they end up in.

If possible, try to organize your inventory and its boxes by room. Doing so will help you or your movers know where to place each box when it’s time to move your parents into their new living space.

Additionally, be sure to make copies of your inventory. The last thing you’ll want to do is lose track of the one list that keeps track of all your parents’ belongings.

5. Help your parents make their new location feel like home.

helping your parents move

Another downsizing tip we’d like to offer? Spend time with your parents. During the downsizing process, your parents will need to maintain some sense of normalcy and control. You can help give them peace of mind (and good memories) by helping them acclimate to their new surroundings.

Help them decorate, go explore the neighborhood with them, or just order takeout and enjoy a good post-moving meal together while you share memories with them. Regardless of what helping your elderly parents adjust to their new environment looks like, take time to help them feel supported and loved every step of the way.

Give yourself more time with self storage.

Whether downsizing is a discussion you’ve been planning to have for a long time or it’s a recent development, there may be situations when you simply need more time and storage space than you currently have. For those instances, choose self storage solutions from Prime Storage. When you choose a space from our wide selection of storage units, you can store your parents’ non-necessities (such as keepsakes, additional furniture, etc.) until you have time to comb through them and make necessary decisions.

For additional convenience for you and your parents, we offer flexible month-to-month leases, free auto payment and online bill pay to keep your to-do list as short as possible. Make this next transition a better experience for your parents and for yourself. When Life Demands Space® in the form of downsizing, visit your nearest Prime Storage facility and create the storage solution you need today.

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