Overcoming Downsizing Dilemmas: Moving Your Aging Parent into Senior Living

Moving boxes in a home

Moving out of a home of many years and leaving cherished memories behind can be a challenge for any of us. But for aging parents, downsizing and moving from the comfort and familiarity of a long-time home to senior living can be especially difficult.

Older adults often view moving to senior living as a sign that they are losing their independence. And having to organize, downsize and pack a house full of belongings can seem like an overwhelming task.

“It is particularly important for adult children to recognize that downsizing for a move to senior living can leave their aging parents feeling both emotionally and physically distressed, “says Colleen Dwyer, RN, BSN, NHA, Executive Director and Administrator of Bryn Mawr Terrace. “Whether they are burdened by the thought of a move, upset about leaving the home they know and love or simply aren’t sure where to start in their journey, it’s important for adult children to try their hardest to make this process as simple as possible while helping them to realize why a move might be the best thing for them.”

A 2015 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard found nearly 70% of households age 85 and over live in homes that lack essential features that would let them live safely. Thus, for many aging parents, senior living can be an ideal solution – one that addresses their ongoing need for personal safety, comfort, support and life enrichment.

5 Ways You Can Help Your Aging Parent with Downsizing Dilemmas

Fortunately, helping an aging parent with downsizing can be simple once you find effective ways to overcome some of the most common dilemmas. Try some of our solutions to help make your parent’s journey easier.

1. Overpacking – Before you begin downsizing, talk to your parents about which items they know they’d like to take with them to their new senior living community. Once you’ve toured, consider if these items will fit into their new space and evaluate what they will not need to bring with them. When you’ve completed your lists of must-take and leave behind, ask which rooms they’d like to start off with. From there, start downsizing.

2. Jumping in all at once – It’s unrealistic to think that you will be able to get everything done in one day. Try tackling a room or two at a time and take frequent breaks. Refrain from making one huge pile of items, but instead sort them in order to prevent overwhelming your parents. Make a take along pile and a throw away pile. It is also important to identify what items you may potentially need later. It is ok to put some items in storage if you are unsure if you’ll use them later, just be sure to go through and downsize those items periodically.

3. Not asking for help – Too many adult children and seniors try to manage downsizing on their own. This can cause a lot of stress and agitation. Instead of trying to get everything done by yourself, ask for help from other family members or friends. Chances are, they’d be happy to help out.

4. Not showing empathy or caring, not providing support – If your loved one gets very hung up on certain items or seem reluctant or upset, try to be as understanding as possible. It’s not easy to downsize and leave everything you know or to get rid of items you’ve worked so hard for. Take some time to reminisce, let them know you are there for them and provide the support they need. Reassure them that a move to a senior living community will provide them with plenty of fun opportunities and a more carefree lifestyle, although it may take some time to adjust.

 5. Not making their senior living community feel like home – To make the adjustment easier and to help them become more comfortable, make their new senior living environment feel like home. Try to set up their room ahead of time with the items they have put aside to take along while downsizing. It can also help to use their comforter, some of their furniture and even their curtains if possible. If your loved one wants to be more involved in the process, make a party out of it!

Although it might not seem like it at the time, downsizing and moving to a senior living community can be made simpler with patience, understanding and by finding effective ways to overcome dilemmas. For more information on downsizing or to learn more techniques to overcome any other dilemmas you are facing, don’t hesitate to contact us.

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles and tips on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated “Best in Senior Care.”

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on Overcoming Downsizing Dilemmas: Moving Your Aging Parent into Senior Living, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we are  always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents like family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

 Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing careindependent living,  personal carememory carerestorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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