Get your aging parents to downsize asap if they are still in their single family home.

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The reason I am saying to ask your aging parents to downsize is to do so while everyone still has the energy to help sort, donate, and move into something more manageable.

My parents were in their mid to late 90's and still glued to their single family house. Once Mom passed a couple of months ago and Dad decided last month it was a good time to move to Independent Living, he now wants to sell the house ASAP.

Dad only took what he needed for his new apartment.... there is still a lot of furniture left in the house, kitchen cabinets with lot of cookware and glassware, not to mention the stuff in the garage, and everything in Dad's workshop in the basement [found a very old computer down there] and more stuff. I already tossed out a lot of clothes that I couldn't donate, and have bags of clothes to donate. I do plan to call an Estate Sale person to sell the items. But I need to throw the junk out first.

Whew, after work I am tired and that only give me maybe an hour each day to tackle one corner of one room. Oh my gosh, all the dust !!! Let's not forget about all the paperwork that ones elders keep. Like warranty booklets for things they no longer have. I dragged home several dozen 3-rings binders with financial info, as I now need to do the finances as Dad doesn't want to bother with it. Oh fun.

And there are things I would like to keep so now my family room at home looks like a flea market :P And there is more to cart home when I get the energy. Oh my gosh, as here I was trying to limit the things I have as I am senior myself, and would like to downsize before too long. It's hard to part with things that were part of my growing up.

So, once your Mom and Dad start to slow down, and you start to notice that they aren't keeping the house up, try to get them to sell and move into something smaller [it can still be a single family house but half the size], that way they would need to either donate, sell or toss out "stuff". I know it won't be easy. I would try to get my Mom to donate items, and to her that was one knick knack each year.... [sigh].


An idea that I wished my parents would have done is to start gifting family heirlooms and knick knacks NOW!!!! Most seniors are either on a limited budget OR do not get around well enough to enjoy shopping. Instead, why not give golf clubs or a nice piece of crystal to the children and great grand children to mark Easter, graduation, weddings, birthdays or Christmas.

I saw a neat idea somebody had for the 40 days of lent this year. Find a large bag or box. Each day of lent, put a good piece of clothing, household item or whatever to donate to a thrift or charity store at the end of the observance.

GA, I feel your is overwhelming. I admire your approach of one corner of one room at a time.
Mincemeat, great idea about passing out heirlooms and knick knacks while the relatives could enjoy them... not wondering now what will I do with this gravy boat that I am trying to downsize :P

I am only child with no children so all those things stops in its tracks. I need to figure out how to pass on these things to my cousins, but they are also senior citizens like myself and most don't have any children, either. Oh well, I will figure out something.
FF, what about contacting a charity, or a church, to find a family in need that could use the items? You could also call 211 for assistance in finding a charity that could help locate a needy family.

There's also the St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher organization, which I believe even has a thrift shop in the SE Michigan area; I don't know whether it's a national charity though.

Another thought is to contact the closest military base and ask for contact information for the services family support groups. There might be a family in need that could use some assistance.

These suggestions would apply more toward clothing or old toys and such stuff (you did find some of your toys, didn't you?)

As to the old computers, perhaps there's a technological museum in the area that might want the old gems.
GardenArtist, yes I found some of my childhood old wooden puzzles that I bet have lead paint. Oops.

I will see what an Estate Sale person can do, in fact I plan to add to my Mom's collection with my own dishes/glassware that I rarely, if ever, use. When was the last time any of us had neighbors over for tea and used our Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles? Or china service that has gold rim that sets off sparks if used in a microwave? Or used a silver place setting, beautiful stuff but I remember the folks and spoons had a odd taste.

What doesn't sell in the Estate Sale, I do have a nearby church sponsored place that takes a lot of goods, plus there is also a nearby Goodwill. Today I pulled out about a 100 VHS tapes that my parents had that I will need to go through and take to Goodwill [the only place that will take these old tapes]. For the past 10 years Dad said he was going to transfer the tapes to CD, but that never got done... [sigh].

And what is it with all the contact paper? My gosh, my Dad's desk had some type of contact paper that I can't get out. All the kitchen cabinets and drawers, contact paper. And old large speaker that I thought was wood grain, yep it was contact paper :) And need to figure out how to get all the backing fuzz off the antique wooden kitchen table from a vinyl tablecloth that my Mom had on the table for decades.
My mother has contact paper on the the kitchen floor.
I remember that contact paper was very popular years ago. I used to bring home those large Hammermill paper boxes that held about 10 reams of paper, and cover them with contact paper. I still have dozens of them filled with material.

Actually, I liked them as there were some really attractive patterns, and the boxes were free from work.
I thought this to be the case until I read Kate Atkinson"s novel " A God in Ruins " where the author powerfully describes what it is like for the elderly parent to see their belongings downsized and feel they are being ushered out of this phase of their life. So I guess there is a balance between the practical and the emotional , I was certainly struck by her writing and understood more my parents reluctance to move. For UK readers on this site, there is an equivalent chat forum called which i have found as helpful for an insight into how the care system works in the uk .
FF I still have nightmares about cleaning out my folks house so I feel for you. first off if you can get a dang roll off dumpster. We were lucky the folks who bought the house had one and we could add to it. They allowed us time after settlement to move more out as they were remodling the place. My advise as to the estate acutioneers is to be very careful. We hired a service with great referals and got taken big time. Antique shop, tons of antiques... diddly squat for parents. It is luck of the drawl... bad weather hurt us too ( december) Mom gave things to each cousin, then some of them bought some of the antiques.. but if they helped us with the clean out they got a lot free...
I love the idea of a service agency that may need stuff for fire victims, etc. I also traded out some of my things for parents much nicer stuff, let my stuff go to sale/goodwill. This is a horrible mess for those of us who get to deal with it.. my local goodwill knows me by name at this point as I am trying to clean out so MY daughter does not have to deal!
Pam, thanks for the heads up on the Estate Sale people. I just want the big stuff out of the house, as the smaller things I can deal with if not sold.

GardenArtist, would you believe that coming soon we will see those 10 ream copy paper boxes be in decorative designs. I forgot which company will be doing those, I remember taking a survey last year through Quill to see which design boxes I liked. The designs were floral :)
BTW you motivated me today! Hubs will be making a Goodwill run Monday as we have a new couch coming.. and I got a ton more stuff for him ( I was slowly going through stuff but with Mom away I was able to really get to it today!) Thank you!!

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