Reduced stress. Increased productivity. Improved well-being.


As seen in the Dayton Daily News on October 28, 2017.

In my last column I answered the first part of this question:

What do I do if my elderly parents are becoming more dependent on me, yet they won’t let me get rid of anything in their home in preparation for downsizing to a smaller home or senior community?

If you did not read that column and would like to: email and we can send it to you.

This column addresses those times when mom and dad are still living in their home and will be downsizing to a much smaller home in the near future. Their belongings must be minimized prior to the move, but they are giving you resistance every time you try to help.

Getting impatient when they won’t let go of something doesn’t benefit anyone, instead show compassion. Good memories are tied to their processions. Getting rid of their stuff feels like they are letting go of loved ones. Remind them that the stuff are just mementoes, not their memories.

You can offer to take pictures of the things they struggle to part with. Later give them the pictures to make a memory book. They can jot down next to each picture why the item was special to them. This brings them comfort knowing they have pictures to refresh their memory.

If your parents ask you if you want something, take it. If you don’t want it, stop by the Goodwill on your way home and bless someone else with it. It makes parents feel better to give things away to a loved one, instead of giving them to someone they don’t know.

I know my last suggestion may upset my elderly readers, but you also need to show compassion. Your adult children are trying to help you. They can also feel emotional about this process. It’s hard to watch your parents struggle to let things go. Try not to sabotage their efforts by making things difficult.

If your siblings still have things in the house, call them and give them a deadline for when they need to pick up their stuff. If they don’t meet the deadline, give useful items to Goodwill and pitch the rest.

Have a downsizing party. Invite family and friends to choose their favorite items. There is great joy when seeing that someone else will treasure your items.

Try to find good homes for their things. For example, craft supplies can be donated to a school or senior community center. Towels and bedding can go to local dog shelters. Your parents are happier when their belongings have value for others.

Look for items that can be sold online or at consignment shops. Give them the proceeds from the sale. Perhaps, it can be spent on a fun outing once their home has been downsized.

Often they think their items are more valuable than they are. Finding the real value can sometimes make them realize it’s time to donate instead of selling.

If possible when working through their home, hold the items yourself instead of letting your parents touch them.  When they hold them, their feelings for the items become stronger and it makes it more difficult to let them go.

If downsizing your parents is proving to be too difficult, hire a professional organizer. Your last years with them should be enjoyed, not spent fighting over stuff.