Blog post we love: 5 Tips for Helping Your Parents Downsize

I’ll be honest: I’d always thought professional organizers served people who have gigantic cabinets of scrapbooking material and are about to be buried in an avalanche of glittery stickers raining down from overstuffed shelves. Then I met Dana Arkinzadeh and immediately GOT IT. Dana runs DMA Organizing & Moves, and her specialty is helping families sort through their belongings and determine what is important to them. This often comes up when someone is preparing to move into a smaller home, or into a retirement community. It’s a time of anxiety and a big transition. And tell you what: you want a personality like Dana around as you tackle it.

A few months ago I asked her what advice she’d give families who are starting to think about downsizing, and she wrote a fabulous blog post on the matter. Here are the five key considerations she presents:

  • Your pace may not be their pace. Be respectful and mindful of where your parents are in the process of being ready to move. You’ll only be able to go as fast as they are capable and willing to. Understanding their resistances rather than fighting them will enable you to better tailor your message to their ears.

  • Help assess their immediate needs. Are they or you considering moving because of a need around safety, health, hygiene, housekeeping, meals or social life? Help identify solutions to challenges in these areas while they are still at home if possible.

  • Don’t let your attachments hold them back. Can’t believe they are wanting to get rid of the special quilt Aunt Mary made? Then you take it!

  • Don’t take sides. Sometimes one person in the couple wants to move but the other doesn’t. Generally, unless health and safety are at risk, there are many pros and cons to moving–all subject to a particular person’s perspective. Remember that the negotiation process between couples is complicated and not so much about right and wrong as it is about finding a set of solutions that both can live with.

  • Offer to find resources. Downsizing and moving can require a lot of research and using different vendors. Offer to research and coordinate potential resources that may be needed during the process. This can allow your parent to focus on the work of sorting and decision making.

Dana’s full post offers a whole list of resource suggestions, including websites, organizations and books. She’s in the Bay Area and offers free 15-minute consultations, too, if you’re ready to jump in.