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How do I help my parents downsize without them panicking?

They have been in the same house for almost 50 years and everytime I bring up the subject of cleaning out some of the childhood clutter my Mom bursts into tears.
Status: Open    Apr 07, 2015 - 07:11 PM


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APFM Staff Answers

Apr 13, 2015 - 11:33 AM

My parents downsized when they retired and decided to buy an RV and travel, and I have also had to downsize. It's not easy when you have an emotional attachment to items.

My mother thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get my brother and I together, and "give us our family heirlooms" while she still was able to have a say in it. It turned out to be incredibly fun for all of us. They packed everything else up in storage.

When I needed to downsize, I had a houseful of items that both my mother and I were very emotionally attached to. After boxing many small items up very carefully, and paying for storage for an extended amount of time, we have both finally been able to let go of many items. It is amazing what you are able to let go of if you haven't seen it in a year.

Moral of the story, if you don't see it every day; you do lose some attachment to it (but not all). If you are able to, sometimes it's easier to pack things up and keep them for awhile, then some back and sort through. You can do this in smaller bites to make it less overwhelming, too (go through Christmas items only, for example).

You can also ask for things that have meaning to you, and she may be happy to let you take it home.

Aug 12, 2015 - 04:01 PM

It is often difficult for seniors to downsize; we have several articles discussing how to make it an easier process:

Downsizing the Painless Way

Helping Senior Loved Ones With Downsizing


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