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Older adults often need help adjusting when they are saying goodbye to a home they have cherished to move into a smaller place. It is not unusual for seniors to feel resentment and loneliness as a result of changes like this, but family members can help reduce the stress involved and assist their loved ones in transitioning smoothly.


Find the positives and respect their emotions


Seniors commonly feel as if they are losing independence with these kinds of changes, so help them focus on the positives. For example. they may be moving closer to grandchildren or will soon have less housework to worry about so they can pursue their favorite hobbies. Downsizing can also simplify a senior’s finances, freeing up money they can use to enjoy their retirement.


As a senior works toward moving day, they will need to sort through their belongings and pare things down. This is a wonderful time to revisit old memories and share stories with loved ones about sentimental items. As the Chicago Tribune explains, an older adult’s home tends to represent their life story and it’s important to value these experiences.


Embrace the memories connected to family heirlooms


Downsizing gives the extended family a chance to gain a new appreciation for heirlooms and other meaningful pieces. The Penny Hoarder suggests that you might gently talk to your loved one about choosing items to distribute to charities or even other family members. Older adults may find it easier to part with sentimental items if they can share the history of the piece and know that it is going to a good cause or a familiar home. Seniors often wait to have heirlooms and other meaningful treasures dispersed after they are gone, but doing this before a move can be a positive way to transition out of the home.


Be sensitive on moving day and stay connected afterward


Be especially tender and caring on moving day. Some older adults will want to oversee the process themselves while others do best enjoying something relaxing elsewhere. Hire professional movers if the budget allows to ensure that this step can be handled quickly. The sooner everything is moved, the sooner your senior can make new connections to reduce feelings of loneliness.


Many seniors have beloved pets that will also require special attention and care on moving day. For the safety of your loved one’s dog or cat, it’s important to secure the pet in a back room until the other rooms have been moved. Dogs are particularly sensitive during the commotion of a move. You might notice some anxiety or other unusual behaviors. To reduce the pet’s level of stress or anxiety, you might invest in a quality crate to provide maximum safety and comfort. Dog crates are available in a variety of sizes to suit almost any breed, and can be placed in the room where you plan to keep the dog during the move. Be sure to fill the crate with the dog’s favorite bedding, toys, and some food and water.


Stay involved with your loved one after moving day to help them adjust to their new surroundings. Forbes recommends looking for community resources to utilize and coax your loved one into trying available activities. Find local events that they might enjoy and take them yourself so they have some companionship. For example, you might take them to a local concert, theater performance, bingo night, or senior center to help them stay engaged and upbeat.


Search for ways to help without being overbearing


Make it easy for your senior to connect with you, making yourself readily available so they don’t have to reach out themselves. Finding a balance between helping and letting them assert their independence can be tricky. Be persistent and supportive, but watch for cues that you need to give your loved one some space. Another way to help seniors is to hire professionals to aid them in completing everyday tasks, such as caring for their yard or walking the dog.


When you are helping a senior family member downsize, it is essential that you proceed thoughtfully. Help your loved one focus on the positives associated with the transition and give them the opportunity to share treasured memories and pass along sentimental items. Remember that their need for support continues after moving day and use all the resources you can to assist in making this a smooth move.

—  Written by Michael Longsdon