Senior Snippets: Downsizing a Home

Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Home Instead in Watford.

In this instalment, we are sharing some useful tips to help organise a move for an elderly relative. Moving is a high-stress life event. Whether they’re moving town or downsizing to a retirement property, the organising, packing, cleaning, paperwork and the countless other tasks is a major challenge and can feel overwhelming. 

Our tips are:

Plan Ahead: If you have time before the move, and if your elderly relative is willing, think about beginning to declutter long before the move. Shred, toss or give away obvious items such as unnecessary paperwork, old clothes and extraneous household items that just take up space. Starting early without a deadline can take the pressure off. 

Make Lists: Keep a notebook just for the move and whenever you think of something, write it down. Include to-do lists, a calendar/timeline, things you're likely to forget and questions about the new residence.

Complete Paperwork: Inform the address changeat the post office as well credit cards, bank accounts, investment/retirement accounts, family & friends, driver's license/car registration, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, social clubs & places of worship.

Sort: Plan to go through one room at a time. Start with the easiest. Don't try to pack, just sort into categories and use a colour coded method to keep track:

1)      Definitely save (these are the most useful, most beloved, most meaningful items).

2)      Possibly save (you'll need to revisit these later, and continue paring down).

3)      Donate or sell. 

4)      Discard.

Pack:  Once everything is sorted and labelled, it will be easier to pack up the house. Mark all boxes with the destination area of the new residence e.g. bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc. It will also be helpful to label ‘open first’ boxes with important items such as bedding, bathroom essentials, and basic kitchen items. Pack valuables separately and keep these with you during the move.

Once your relative moves, make sure to check in frequently at the beginning. Adjusting to the new surroundings may take days, weeks or even months. Many people feel relief while others may be withdrawn and hesitant about starting in a new place. By remaining a regular presence in their life it maintains a sense of security and familiarity which will ease any distress.

I’d love to hear from you! To make a suggestion for a future topic, please write to me at [email protected] or by post to Home Instead, Flexspace, 15-19 Greenhill Crescent, WD18 8PH. Alternatively, you can also call me on 01923 250513

Office team
Family welcoming a Home Instead care manager into their home