The process of downsizing isn’t easy for anyone. But for elderly seniors it can be even more stressful.
Just think about it for a moment. For many, they have not just years but decades of memories and experiences tied up in their possessions. For this reason, deciding what to keep, what to give away or donate and what to junk or trash is difficult.
Helping An Elderly Senior (Or Anyone, For That Matter) Downsize
When helping a senior, or anyone else, downsize keep these 5 things in mind.
1. Start Out With An Open Discussion
As you begin the discussion and throughout the downsizing process, open-ended questions are a friend to the elderly. Why? Because they help the individual(s) involved articulate what they are feeling and why. This allows you to ask further open questions that can help them honestly and realistically evaluate their possessions, whether they should keep them, donate them or junk them.
Questions, in particular open questions designed to help them, will allow the elderly to judge their possessions’ real value, to them or someone else, and help them to make decisions that are their own as well as realistic.
Sometimes the treasures we hold dear are, quite honestly, junk to others. That said, simply trying to pry that treasure out of our hands to give or throw out may be more likely to lead to a stubborn refusal to give it up. Or, a lengthier conversation than is ideal.
In cases where dementia or Alzheimers or a physical disability is involved having an open discussion can seem, and may be, impossible. However, depending on the stage things are at mentally or physically, and as much as is humanly possible, allow the elderly involved to feel like the choices being made are theirs. Or, or at least, that they play an important role in the final outcome, even as you are guiding the process along.
2. Don’t Rush The Process
Go into the process knowing the elderly person(s) will need time to process mentally and emotionally what items need to be disposed of … whether given away, donated or trashed.
The more you try to rush the process, chances are, the longer the process will take. In the early stages of decluttering, asking open ended questions that help the individuals think through and articulate what they are feeling is important can ‘feel’ like a waste of time. But it isn’t. It is important to allow time for those who are decluttering to speak about and think through the best options for each item. Your job is to ask good questions that get them to honestly and realistically think about how important items are and what the realistic options are for the item. And to allow them the time needed for the process to happen.
In some cases a health issue may be forcing change upon the elderly that doesn’t allow much time for the process. Even then, the more you can include and engage in open conversation the better.
3. Involve Other Family Members Or Friends, Or Hire A Professional
Once you have had the necessary conversations and are ready to move forward with disposing of the agreed upon items, invite others to help with the process.
This may mean inviting the involvement of family members or friends or hiring a professional senior downsizing services, Decluttering for seniors is a services we offer at A Step Forward Senior Moving Services.
Downsizing can involve a lot of work. So, having friends and family you can call on to assist in the process is a bonus.
Where family or friends are not nearby find a reputable local senior service to provide the service needed. Most services will provide you with a quote or services free of charge.
4. Allow The Process To Be Emotional & Challenging
For most of us, downsizing is not an easy process. To others our attachment to some objects can seem ridiculous but our emotions are real and letting go of long held and dearly loved possessions can be extremely challenging.
Feeling emotional, even shedding tears, is not an unnatural part of downsizing. It’s a part of saying good-bye to possessions that have been, in some cases, lifelong friends.
Allow the elderly to be emotional and be patient with them as they work through giving away or trashing what may seem to them as treasures.
5. Take Care Of Yourself
While downsizing can be difficult for the elderly that we love, it can also be difficult for you, if you are the one walking them through this process.
It can be exhausting and stressful and so managing your own stress is critically important. It will be hard for you to be patient and supportive if you are stressed out and exhausted.
So, make sure you are getting the support you need from family and friends or hire a professional.
We’re Here To Help
We come alongside our clients with care and empathy, and, if they are downsizing, we help them through the process with patience, professionalism and hard work.
We do all the work. The client can relax and enjoy the results!
Call Aaron at 604-799-1789 or email Aaron@ASFservices.ca for a free consult.