Greater Home Ideas

Downsizing Mom and Dad: How to Help Aging Parents Declutter

Troutman, NC Real Estate News and Notes for Lake Norman


Downsizing Mom and Dad: How to Help Aging Parents Declutter –  (Lake Norman Home SellersOlder adults have had a lifetime to make memories, many of which are rooted firmly in their possessions. From wedding dresses to homemade Christmas ornaments, seniors often have a collection of curios that we consider clutter. Many seniors face situations that require significant downsizing. Read on for a few tips on how to help Mom and Dad simplify for safety and (your) sanity.

Discuss safety hazards openly and honestly. Seniors who have been in their home for many years are likely to have collected rooms full of stuff that they don’t use, and space is often tight. If the need to declutter has stemmed from a recent accident, injury, or other mobility impairment, talk with your parents about ways to make the home safer and the need to make room for assistive devices. This will inevitably include getting rid of furniture, area rugs, and other obstacles.

Allow the senior to be a part of the process. Nobody likes the idea of somebody else going through their stuff and cherry picking what should stay and what should go. Be firm with your parent that changes are necessary, but allow them to direct the process. Something as simple as time of day may be of great importance if the senior has a particular routine they would like to stick to. You will be less of a hindrance, and they will likely be more cooperative if you allow your parent(s) to call the shots. According to Psychology Today, many people hold onto stuff because they simply don’t know how to proceed. Assure your parent that you are there to help and will get the ball rolling at a comfortable pace.

Keep in mind that this is also sage advice about not just what your parents are purging, but if they’re moving to a smaller place, then where they’ll be living as well. If they’re moving to a new home, use an online search tool together to view homes in your area. This allows them to narrow down which homes they think will be a good fit for them, but keeps the opportunity open for you to discuss it with them. For example, in Troutman, NC, Homes are selling for an average price of $192,000.  If they’re moving to an assisted living community or nursing home, they should have the final say in which facility they choose (unless they are mentally incapacitated or can’t afford their top pick).

Ask them what’s most important. Though you may not understand it, there is likely a good reason that your mom or dad has kept each and every item that remains in their possession. The trinkets may be linked to important memories, such as your birth or major family events. Items of historical significance may be coveted as a way for the senior to stay rooted in his or her past. Find out what’s most important and get the senior to discuss why. They may realize that many items can be released without compromising their sense of identity. The AARP offers tips on how to help your loved one prioritize and preserve prized possessions.

Don’t assume. Unless your parent is suffering with a physical or mental instability that would bar them from making decisions, never take matters into your own hands. While you may not see the importance of that old quilt shoved in the closet, it may be a family heirloom that your mom can’t live without.

Offer opportunities for items to be donated and put to good use. Sometimes, seniors hold on to belongings because they believe they will be of some great use in the future. Talk to your mom or dad about donating previously loved clothes, shoes, and furniture to charitable organizations, such as Goodwill. Doing this will ensure items retain their useful value, which may be why they were kept in the first place. SageMinder, a website dedicated to caregiver support, additionally suggests recycling or consigning used clothing, books, and household goods.

Consider the reason for the reorganization. If your parent is downsizing because they are moving into an assisted living facility, they will not need many of their larger personal belongings. Furniture, especially, is not needed, as most senior care campuses are fully furnished in a way that is both visually appealing and, more importantly, safe. Your parent will likely only have the need for a few cherished treasures, such as photographs or home videos.

Remember, treat your parent with respect and talk to them like the adult they are. Even seniors with cognitive impairments can pick up on tone and have emotional responses that will either help or hinder the situation.


If you have a family member who is looking to sell their home and/or buy another, we are here to help you.  Please consider us for all of your Real Estate Needs.

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