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Author: Darla PompilioFamily General Home Keepsakes Move Management Safety Tips

How to Start a Conversation with Seniors About Downsizing Their Space

By Darla Pompilio, (610) 847 5422, Your Tasks, Our Time

Do you have a parent or senior in your life that could benefit from downsizing their home but
you’re not sure how to approach the discussion? The topic of downsizing can be a difficult for
some. They may have to part with items that have memories attached. Or it may make them
feel like they are losing a piece of themselves. Below are some key aspects to ensure you have a
supportive and respectful discussion with the seniors in your life.

Before You Begin the Conversation

Before you start the conversation with your loved one, keep a few things in mind.

Be Respectful and Non-Judgmental

A Senior’s possessions represent a lifetime of memories. Dismissing their value as worthless is
equal to dismissing the senior’s value.

Don’t Lecture

Most seniors will respond well if you share your concerns and express your desire for them to
be in a safe and comfortable environment. It’s not about forcing them to get rid of things, it’s
about helping them to live their best life.

How to Begin the Conversation

How you start the conversation, and the tone you use, can impact the discussion either positively or negatively.  Come from a place of support and love so they understand your desire to help them. Below is a list of questions you can use to get the conversation started.

Open-ended questions will be better to gain more information.  

  • How are you doing/feeling?
  • What’s going on in your life?
  • Are you struggling to maneuver in your space? 
  • Are you able to easily find things that you need or want?
  • Are you comfortable with how the space looks or feels?
  • What would make you more comfortable?
  • Do you need help?
  • How can I help?

During the Conversation

Getting the conversation started is a step in the right direction.  Keeping the conversation going in a positive direction is just as important. Remember these key points as you progress through your discussion.

Simply Listen

This is probably the most important step in the process. When seniors let go of their possessions, it often feels like a loss of control. By listening to their wants, needs and desires, you’re helping to ensure that they are maintaining control. 

Ask Questions

Allowing seniors to tell stories about the past as you sort through their possessions can help ease some of the anxiety during the process of letting go.

Pick Your Battles

Arguing over every item is going to end with lots of hurt feelings and no progress. Letting go takes practice and patience. Keep reminding your loved one of the ultimate goal … for them to live their best life.  It will get easier as they become more comfortable with letting go.

This process won’t be done overnight.  It’s not uncommon to go through an entire home 2 to 3 times to achieve the desired goals.  So be kind.  Be patient.  And remember, you may be in a similar situation yourself in the future.

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