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Downsizing 101: How to Help Your Senior Loved One Transition to a Smaller Home

As your senior loved one ages, you may find that they have trouble getting up and down the stairs or fall behind on maintenance and cleaning due to the large space. Perhaps they are too far away from you and other family members, and would benefit by being a little closer. Downsizing is a great option for seniors looking to ramp up the safety, reduce the workload, and live out their golden years surrounded by family, friends, and a home that ages with them.

You’ll find several helpful tips listed below to help make this process as easy as possible (for more, check out Closetbox.com’s six tips for downsizing here):

Have a Plan before Downsizing

Downsizing isn’t something you can just jump right into – it requires planning and organization to avoid unnecessary stress. Once the decision to downsize has been made, the greatest downsizing tip is to start as early as possible. Go room by room and sort through every single item. If your loved one already has a home purchased, use the floor plan to determine how much room and storage space they have for items and keepsakes. However, remember that a smaller house means smaller rooms, smaller closets, and less storage space. Perhaps they decide to buy a townhome in Minnesota or explore an option of looking at condos for sale? This will also help to depersonalize the house and declutter since you have to sell a house in the end.

Although it is likely that if your loved one had the choice they would choose to keep everything, they must be reasonable and realistic. Don’t force your loved one to part ways with something they will regret. While it might just be an old silver platter to you, it is so much more than that to them. It served the carved turkey for over 30 years of family dinners and was the centerpiece for every dinner party. Put yourself in their shoes and show a little compassion and understanding.

Modify It

Downsizing into a smaller home is the perfect time to make home modifications, especially if your loved one plans to age in place. A smaller home will have less expenses, including a reduced mortgage, freeing up funds to create a home that ages with them, not against them. You may even find that the house they purchase has modifications already in place. The first room to inspect and change should be the bathroom, with the biggest concern being the bathtub/shower. Consider replacing the tub or shower with a walk-in version, and add grab bars for extra support and safety. Grab bars can be added to other areas of the home as well such as by the toilet or bed. If you loved one’s strength and balance just isn’t what it used to be, a bathtub chair or transfer bench could be the key.

While you may have never given much thought to the floor you walk on, flooring can create a serious tripping hazard, especially if it is old, shaggy carpet. An easy replacement would be shorter-nap carpeting, but hardwood, tile, or laminate would be ideal, especially for wheelchair use. Other modifications to consider are wider hallways/doorways, ramps, railings, extra lighting, and a security system. Want more assistance? Check out DailyCaring.com room-by-room home modification guide.

Location, Location, Location

Before your loved one moves right into the next house, take a look at the location and the neighborhood score for aging in place. Using the AARP Livability Index, neighborhoods are scored based on housing, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. However, according to seniors ages 55 and up, the most important features are bus stops, parks, pharmacies, and grocery stores.

Accompany your senior on their home search, and look for a neighborhood that matches their lifestyle and demographic. Ask neighbors and local law enforcement about the crime rate in the area. Consider asking about the community feel of the area. Do neighbors look out for one another or is seeing a neighbor like spotting a unicorn? Make sure there is quick access to medical care in case of an emergency, and easy access to public transportation if mobility or driving becomes an issue.

Helping your senior loved one downsize doesn’t have to involve a headache. Have an organized plan in place and think to the future with home modifications and neighborhoods that support your loved one’s changing needs. Take your time and they’ll be enjoying their new home in no time.

If you need help with helping your parents downsize and sell a home so they can buy a home in Minnesota, fill out the form below and The Antonov Group agent will reach out to you!

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