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4 Ways to Help a Senior Loved One Downsize

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Submission by guest writer Michael Longsdon

Downsizing to a smaller home is a great move for many seniors. They get to enjoy a simpler life and a home suited to their needs, and you get to know your loved one is safe and comfortable. However, the process isn’t always easy for the senior. Not only do they have to deal with the emotional and logistical overhaul of moving, but they will most likely also have to get rid of many beloved items. Here are just a few simple ways to make it easier for them. 

Researching Homes

Finding a new home, let alone one that is perfectly suited to the needs of a senior, is not always easy. Seniors may not be aware of all the online tools available to help someone find a home, so helping them with this research is an easy way to help. Start by getting a feel for the local real estate market. Redfin is a great place to find information; for example, the average sale price for a home in Newport over the last month was approximately $515,000.

Planning Modifications

The chances of you finding a house that is ready to be safely inhabited by a senior are very low. Some home modifications will probably have to be done, and it is a good idea to know what these might be before looking at homes. 

AARP’s HomeFit Guideis a great introduction to this. Print it out, read it, and give a copy to your senior loved one as well. Use the checklist (pages 7-13) to evaluate the safety of any houses you view. Don’t expect all boxes to be ticked, but do prioritize homes that need less work.

Once you have a favorite house, do some quick budgeting to determine how much the necessary home modifications would cost. This will ensure you know exactly what you are getting into when buying the house. This guidehas handy advice on how to budget for home renovations, starting with determining your priorities. In this case, prioritize elements that will make the home safe for a senior before moving on to cosmetic or comfort changes. 

Getting Rid of the Stuff

Decluttering can be particularly stressful for seniors, as they have accumulated decades of stuff and probably feel quite attached to most of it. Be understanding but firm in your support. Care.comsuggests setting a slow and steady pace and getting as much family support as possible. Remember that there is a difference between being sentimental and being a hoarder, which is a serious mental health condition that can make getting rid of stuff literally painful, physically and mentally If you feel like your loved one falls into the latter category, it might be a good idea to bring in a professional with relevant experience. 

Of course, if you have items that you simply cannot give away or dispose of, consider renting a self-storage unit until you figure out how you want to move forward. Just keep in mind that self-storage in Newportwill run you around $100 per month on average.

Moving Day

Moving is logistically complicated, so help them plan everything out well in advance. Select how you would like to move, whether it is using a full-service mover (convenient, but costs about $6,000for a cross-country move), a self-service mover (where you pack and load the contents onto the truck), or a DIY option where someone in the family drives a truck themselves. Bear in mind the latter isn’t actually that cheap and will still require you to save up some money. If there is family available to help, self-service may be the best option. 

When hiring a moving team, get plenty of recommendations and look at online reviews. Make sure to ask the right questions, like details about their registration, insurance, additional fees, services, and history of claims and complaints. 

Finally, remember to be patient and supportive throughout the whole process. Listen to their worries and do your best to assuage them, letting them know that you are there to help and support them. It’s common for seniors to drag their feet over a move, only to eventually realize it was the best solution for everyone. You just have to get them settled in comfortably first. 

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