Just over two years ago my sister and her family made the commitment to emigrate. A difficult decision for them, made harder as our parents lived in a granny flat on their property. The house would be sold along with the granny flat and our parents would need to move. And so, she and I had to talk to our parents about moving into a retirement home.

Although they had already downsized twice – moving from a farmhouse to a small cottage in a seaside village, and then to the granny flat in my sister’s garden – the idea of a retirement home came as a shock. As a family we felt that they needed the safety and security that a retirement home would provide. It took a little while to find the right place, which gave them time to get used to the idea, and prepare for the changes.

Packing up was not difficult as they had already downsized considerably. Moving day came and went, and they settled in very quickly. Two years on, they love it there and wish they had moved sooner!

Talking to your parents about downsizing and moving can be difficult. Believe me, I know. I hope these 5 tips help you and your parents:

  1. Explain why you think its time for them to move into something smaller and safer. Perhaps they have become frail or forgetful. Perhaps the home is too big for them to maintain properly. Perhaps finances dictate. Whatever the reasons, be honest but gentle and help them understand that you believe this is best.
  2. Empathize with them. Having to move out of their home where they have been happy and comfortable will be emotionally taxing and difficult to come to terms with. Give them time to get used to the idea, and process the loss.
  3. Give you parents some control. Remember this is yet another reminder of their frailties and lack of control. Help them organize the move, but give them plenty of time. Rushing your parents will only make the process more difficult for them.
  4. Show your parents the benefits of moving into a retirement home/village. They will be able to socialise with people their own age. They will be safe. There will be assistance where needed. Less housework, less maintenance. The benefits are endless.
  5. Create a memory book. We created and printed a memory book of all their favourite things - the collections they couldn’t keep, the furniture that had to go, the huge photo collages on the walls, pictures of the cottage and garden and their favourite tree. Creating a memory book has helped preserve the memories of those years, especially now that my Dad has started losing his memory. And the best part is that my sister and I made it with my parents. That in itself is a wonderful memory for all of us.

Creating a memory book is a very creative way for your parents to keep everything they are giving away close their heart. The best part is – you made it together!

Probably the most important bit of advice I can offer is to be patient, and give them all the time they need!

Have you had to talk to your parents about downsizing? Do you have any tips?

Published in Organizing

Having dinner at friends recently, we got talking about our parents and the challenges that go with growing older! One of our friends had been trying, without much success, to help her mom with the huge task of decluttering and letting go of years and years of accumulation.

“I get so impatient, I just want to do it without her”

“I don’t understand why she wants to keep everything”

“Most of it is old and not even very nice. I would just throw it out!”

Children and family members are well meaning, but often do more harm than good. They don’t have the patience to listen to the stories or pore over the memories. They are often too emotionally involved. Ultimately, they just want the job done as quickly as possible.

This is where an Organiser who understands and works with Seniors comes in.

  • A professional organizer who works with seniors will have lots of patience. They are willing to listen to the stories, look at the photographs and allow time to reminisce.
  • The organizer knows that getting organized will be a slow process. It took a lifetime to accumulate all of the possessions, so it will take time to go through everything.
  • The Senior needs an organizer who understands the physical limitations and adjust the length of an organizing session accordingly.
  • The professional organizer has to build trust with the senior client. It is hard to have strangers go through your things.
  • Senior citizens need to feel they are being treated with courtesy and consideration, and take time to listen to their concerns regarding the downsizing process.
  • A professional organizer needs to be able to communicate effectively with the Senior, as well as their family members and any caretakers involved.
  • Most importantly, our Mantra should always be “Do NO harm”. We know when to slow down and when to back away

Don’t wait until there is a strained relationship, or emotions run high.

Let the professional organizer do the hard stuff, and you get to do the fun stuff!

Published in Organizing

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