Guest Blog By : Michael Longsdon
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Even though most seniors would like to age in place in their family homes, this isn’t always a possibility. Costs, social isolation, and basic safety are all key factors that may lead you to decide that downsizing is the way forward. However, even those seniors who have accepted that downsizing is the best option for them may have a difficult time with the emotional and physical upheaval involved. Here are a few ways to make the whole process easier.
Be Open to Home Modifications
Looking for the ideal small, accessible home for a senior can sometimes seem impossible. It’s easier to start the home-searching process already open to the idea of making home modifications for safety and accessibility. Most of these are relatively minor, and many can be DIYed. If there’s a modification you’re not able to make on your own, you can hire a local handyman to help out (a handyman contractor in Appleton will usually charge between $308 and $969 per project). This means you can widen your search to homes that are not necessarily senior ready now, but can easily become it.
Set Realistic Goals
Once you have chosen a new home for your senior loved one, make sure you get a floor plan of it, as well as plenty of pictures. This will help you keep things in perspective while you declutter and start planning out the layout of the new house. This guide by The Spruce on arranging your stuff in a new home can be useful during this planning stage.
Help With Sorting
Sorting through a lifetime of possessions is an emotionally taxing activity, so be on hand to help your senior loved one through the process. The trick is to be patient and gentle but also firm and reasonable. Give yourselves plenty of time, take it slow, and try to make it fun and enjoyable. Decluttering can be a great opportunity to hear family stories and bond over shared history, as long as you accept that certain sacrifices need to be made. This article by Human Good includes some really great advice on making decluttering go smoothly.
If you’re struggling to do that last extra round of decluttering, you can compromise to a certain extent by investing in good storage options. Furniture with hidden storage can be a great way to keep the new home looking tidy while allowing your loved one to keep a few extra cherished items.
There are various benefits to hiring professional movers (the average national cost for a local move is $1,250). The most obvious one is, of course, that they do all the heavy lifting. But it also allows seniors to remove themselves physically from the house as it is being emptied, which can be a distressing experience. Do your research online to find a trusted moving company near you. Bear in mind that companies will be particularly busy during peak moving times — the busiest days in the U.S. are May 30th through to June 1st.
Learn Proper Back Hygiene
The movers may do the bulk of the heavy lifting, but some moving and lifting is inevitable while you sort out possessions. Make sure everyone involved with the move understands proper back hygiene and knows how to lift using their legs. This will minimize any moving injuries and greatly reduce stress for everyone involved.
Don’t Forget Unpacking
There is so much focus on the decluttering and packing part of downsizing that it can be easy to forget the unpacking and decorating stages. However, this is a particularly important step. Done well, senior home decor can help make the new home feel familiar and, well, homey. You should also take care to arrange furniture and decor in a way that leaves clear, safe walkways in order to minimize trips and falls.
All of these steps can help make downsizing a less daunting prospect for a senior; however, the single most important thing that family needs to do is be patient. Just because it’s the best thing for your senior loved one doesn’t mean it’s not scary or sad for them, so you need to face the process armed with plenty of empathy and restraint. This, combined with the practical help described above, can help make downsizing the positive experience it is meant to be.