Mom Needs to Downsize. Now What?

By Colleen Hassell, Community Outreach Coordinator, HealthAdvocates HomeCare

Mom has been living in the house for more than two decades, and now she needs to move and/or downsize. What do you do? The best way to approach the conversation about moving is carefully. There might be health reasons or a death of a spouse that makes a move more urgent. Many elderly people don’t want to burden their children or other family members. Helping your loved one move can be one of the hardest decisions you make as an adult child.

The first step is to decide where your loved one will move to. There are many options available today. You, along with family members, should evaluate what kind of care is needed.

Is your loved one able to move around with little to no help? If so, Independent Living is an option. These facilities offer little to no assistance. Residents can come and go as they wish and many of these facilities allow residents to have a caregiver visit on a short term basis when more assistance is needed.

Has your loved one stopped driving and does he or she need assistance with day to day activities? If so, Assisted Living facilities have staff that will be there to help your loved one around the clock.

Once a decision has been made on where your loved one is going to move to, the dreaded packing begins! According to a study conducted by the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas, “about 30% of people over age 70 had done nothing to give away belongings over the past 12 months.” Many older people have an extraordinarily difficult time giving up items that are closely linked to their identities. Often, family members see their loved ones’ homes filled with “stuff,” while the loved one associates their belongings with memories and happier times.

Adult children can help their parents downsize by showing them how their possessions can help other people. Asking your loved ones to sit down and go through their home with you to decide what they want to keep and what can be donated and/or thrown away can be very helpful.

The best time to talk to an elderly loved one about moving is now. Talking about the future and what their wishes are saves family members from having to decide what to do during a stressful, chaotic time. Visit houses and facilities with your family member. Ask your loved one what type of housing they prefer.

Founded in 2014, HealthAdvocates HomeCare is a non-medical home care company that provides CNAs and caregivers to families needing care for their loved ones. Info: www.advocatesathome.com or 708-459-6077.