Michael Longsdon at ElderFreedom.net has been gracious enough to give us some tips today on helping seniors downsize, when the time comes. If you’re not familiar with ElderFreedom.net and have older family members that could find it useful be sure to check out his work over there. Thank you, Michael!


So your senior loved one is moving to a smaller place – a new home, apartment, or retirement community perhaps. The cold hard truth is that they are not going to be able to take everything with them. Downsizing is a must. You know this, but it may be hard to convince them to get rid of things they’ve held onto for years. Here are some tips to help even the stubbornest of seniors in their downsizing task.

Make them work in concentric circles

Circles around the house, that is. Make them start at the outside reaches of the home – the attic, basement, guest rooms, and closets. These are the places where they are most likely to find items that they don’t use all that often (thus items they can get rid of/donate). Make them go room by room and don’t let them move on until they’ve finished a section. This methodical approach to downsizing works better than just letting them wander around the house in a free-for-all. Once they’ve gotten rid of a lot of items, they will be able to keep more things in the core of the home – something that will help put their mind at ease.

Furnish their new space for them

This trick works well for seniors moving to a much smaller home or especially when moving to a retirement community. Furnish their new living space with all of their necessary furniture, appliances, and decorations. Put family photos in frames and hang them on the walls or sit them on top of their dresser. Smartly store keepsakes, mementos, and jewelry inside chests and storage boxes. Make their new living space comfortable. If your senior loved one sees that they have all that they need to be comfortable in their new space, they will be much more reasonable when it comes to getting rid of stuff at their old home. For more tips on downsizing to a retirement community, check here.

Offer to store or place sentimental items

There are going to be a lot of items that have no real usefulness to your senior loved one when they move, but carry quite a bit of sentimental value. Old photographs, your childhood trophies, scrapbooks, and family heirlooms are important, but not practical in a small space. Your senior loved one will likely not want to get rid of these things. One way you can get them to part with these sentimental items is to assure them that they will have a good home – preferably one in the family. Offer to store these items at your home, or promise to place them with other members of the family.

Help handle the technology of downsizing

It may be a stereotype, but it’s true more times than not: your senior may not be good with technology. By handling this aspect of downsizing, you can really help. Offer to scan their old photos and create online photo albums so that they can part with the physical photos. Take over the eBay and Craigslist posting, so they can sell unused items and make some cash (getting something for an item instead of simply throwing it away can help to convince seniors to part with it).

In the end, try not to battle too much with your senior loved one. Be patient and understanding. It’s hard to get rid of a life’s worth of stuff. Try to start early with them, so they’ll have time to start accepting that downsizing is a necessity. Rushing to throw stuff away can cause real emotional distress.


If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.

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