How to Help Your Senior Loved One Downsize into a Smaller, More Manageable Home

Photo by  Christopher Flynn  on Unsplash

Photo by Christopher Flynn on Unsplash

There comes a time in a senior’s life when they simply have too much stuff and too much living space to live independently. As their loved one, it’s your job to help them through the downsizing process - a process that can be tricky and emotional. Here’s how to do it. 

Determine how much house they truly need

“Be realistic about the amount of space you’re going to need. While downsizing certainly has its advantages, be sure you aren’t over-downsizing. You also want to avoid under-downsizing – or purchasing more space than needed,” notes Take stock of your loved one’s daily life. Where do they spend their time? How many rooms do they need? Do they have a disability and need everything on one floor? How many possessions are going to make the move with them? Get specific and have a solid idea of the type and square footage requirements for their new forever home.  

Help them find their “Goldilocks” home

The house that your loved one will settle into for - if all goes according to plan - the rest of their life should fit them as perfectly as it can. It shouldn’t be too small, too large, too expensive, or too cheap. It should be just right. It’s your job to help them find this. It’s vital that you research online to get a feel for how much homes cost that are in your loved one’s size and location range (homes in Lafayette have sold on average for $160,000, for example). You can spearhead the search and even handle the showings, negotiation, etc.  

Help them figure out what to get rid of

Moving to a smaller home will require getting rid of some possessions - it’s inevitable. This can be difficult for seniors who hold onto many items of high sentimental value. Hold their hand through this process. Try to find ways to get rid of stuff without throwing it away. Seniors are more likely to approve of donating items or giving them away to friends and family members. Another option is to rent a storage unit for all the stuff they can’t fit in their new home, but don’t want to part with. Shop around for deals in your area, and you’ll likely find them. For instance, the overall average price of a self-storage unit booked in Lafayette over the past six months is $58.42.

Help them pack smartly

There are good and bad ways to pack. There’s a method that will alleviate some of the madness. You also can’t discount the fact that the act of packing - something your loved one may not have done in decades - can be highly emotional. They need your assistance. Remember to pack them an essentials box that stays with you (not on a moving truck) full of their medications, toiletries, etc. Use the right-sized boxes (small for heavy items, large for lighter items). For example, you can find moving boxes with handle holes for as little as $3.37 apiece online. Use packing paper for fragile items. Packing smartly can help your loved one immensely - especially when they are unpacking and settling in to their new home. 

While you may be met with initial reservations from your loved one when you begin to talk about downsizing, you can help them realize that it’s a smart choice. Downsizing can free them up financially, make their lives more manageable and give them more free time to live the way they want to live during their golden years.

Michael Longsdon is a contributor at