The thought of downsizing for people age 55 and up can seem daunting. It may be easy for some, but for many, it’s heartbreaking. The idea of letting go of some of your fondest memories is a hard thing to do. If you’ve lived in the same home for decades, the home itself holds a lifetime of memories. However, many older people feel that they have more belongings than they need. The idea of putting in the work necessary to downsize is exhausting in itself, but it can’t be put off forever. Especially if they are considering a move into assisted living. In that case, their belongings might not have enough room to fit into their new space. What steps can you take to help make this process easier for you and your loved ones?

Family and Friends

Enlist the help of other loved ones to come in and sort through all of your parents’ belongings and help decide what should stay and what needs to go. An outside perspective can really help in making those tough decisions. There might even be family members that would love to take some of those items home and preserve them. Especially when it comes to family heirlooms or even creating your own family heirlooms to be passed down through generations. Ideally, however, the heirloom should be just one or a few items that are relatively small in size. It would be much harder to try and pass down a room full of items that your relative is having trouble letting go of or a giant china cabinet that is difficult to relocate generation after generation. In sorting through items, help your parents select which items would be good for passing on, which items should be sold, what can be donated and what should be tossed, if anything. Go easy on your loved ones in the decision making process. Many of these items may feel linked to their identity in ways others can’t fathom. Sometimes it’s better to leave a difficult item alone for now and come back to it later.

Start Early

In order to reduce the amount of stress this change will cause, try to avoid tackling the whole house all at once. If time allows, take it one room at a time, and go for about two hours at a time. Give your parents a good handful of months to get through it all. It’s time to stop avoiding the inevitable, but easing into it will reduce the pain and hassle that this process can bring.

Yes or No Questions

Some questions can result in serious dilemmas and even more added stress in situations like these. The best questions to ask are the yes or no questions. For instance, it’s best to ask “Do you want to keep this set of cups?” rather than asking “Which dish sets do you want to keep?” Trying to choose which ones to keep and which ones to sell, donate or toss can be much more stressful than just saying yes or no to each individual set as they come up. Same goes for most other items. Try to stick to yes or no questions and keep this process as simple and pain free as possible.

There are many other steps you can take to ease this transition onto your loved ones, and it will be much easier for some than it will be for others. If it becomes far too difficult to manage or your loved one has a serious hoarding problem, there is always professional help available as well. Hopefully these tips will get your loved ones on their way to a more simplistic and manageable lifestyle.