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Helping Seniors Downsize

How can I help a senior downsize? Join Bonnie and Lily as they chat about how to help a loved one downsize from a large home to retirement living or aged care. They’ll chat about where to start, who to get involved, and what not to do. If you’ve got a parent or grandparent who needs to downsize their home or stuff, this episode is just for you. Sign up for our course: The Essentials Guide Download our free Organising Cheat Sheet Episode transcript & more Did you know we now have a YouTube Channel? We’d love you to check it out!

Episode Transcript

BONNIE: Hello and welcome. I am Bonnie,

LILY: and I am Lily, and this is Little Home Organised the podcast dedicated to helping you declutter, get organised and reclaim time for the things you love. 

MUSIC

BONNIE: Hello and welcome, this week we are talking about downsizing with seniors, whether it is your parents, grandparents, or an older friend we will chat about how to help them downsize in readiness for retirement living, or aged care.  We will chat about where to start, who to get involved and what not to do. 

LILY: This is such a great topic but I feel like it is also one that may have people overwhelmed in their personal life because so many of us at some point are going to encounter this issue. 

BONNIE: Well Lil we actually got requested to do this topic and I can do see why because when you have got a parent or a grandparent who is preparing to move into some sort of aged care or retirement living it can feel really overwhelming especially if they have lived in the one house for a long time.  Now this might be something you’re a bit familiar with at the moment because your in-laws are about to move out and they have lived in their house for how long?

LILY: oh gosh it is over 30 years and that is over 30 years of memories, of raising children, going through different phases of life, children going up and moving out and now they have built their own home and they are moving and all these accumulated memories over time they have to make decisions about them because you know we can’t take everything

BONNIE: So you can imaging how hard it is for a couple who have lived in the family home for 40-50 years and they have got a lifetime of memories in there, they have raised their children there, they have maybe had grandchildren come there, maybe one of the partners has actually being deceased and it is just a grandmother or a grandfather left in the family home after 40 years.  That is a lot of memories and a lifetime worth of stuff to get sorted, it is a daunting prospect.

LILY: Yeah, a lot of responsibility lays ahead. 

BONNIE: Yes, and I think there can be a hole lot of what do I do with this stuff? How do I get started, do I even really want to deal with the discomfort of having to make decisions like it is really overwhelming and I know when we got this topic requested it was all about can we talk about how to help our parents and our grandparents downsize so that it is not such a daunting prospect for them and so that we have got the skills to be able to help them go through this lifetime worth or memories and stuff. 

LILY: And what a tricky thing it is to try and do because it is not just about decluttering your own personal stuff it is helping somebody else make decisions about a lifetime of belongings and as we said memories that of things that they are going to look at and it is going to stir up emotions in them so it is a really tricky thing and so I am keen to get into today’s topic and talk about what you should do and what you shouldn’t do when trying to help someone get ready to downsize but when we talk about downsizing firstly what are some of main reasons why downsize. 

BONNIE: Well there is lots of benefits to downsizing and whether you are downsizing or helping a loved one downsize because you have to be or because you want to there are some really good benefits to consider before getting to that point where you absolutely have to downsize and the first one of those is that you just have less responsibility, so a smaller property usually means a smaller yard, a smaller home, there is less maintenance

LILY: Less cleaning

BONNIE: Less cleaning, there is just less stuff to do and we have talked about this in so many of our episodes previously the more things we have in our home and the more space we have in our home the more to do’s we actually have, the more square metres we have to clean, the more yard and grass we have got to mow and more weeds we have got to stay on top of, like it can get pretty overwhelming

LILY: You work your whole life towards retirement; you don’t want to spend that retirement then-

BONNIE:  -working in the yard

LILY: Well unless it is something that you are passionate about but like fulfilling responsibilities that aren’t even serving you, so like if you are wanting to spend your day, you know if you think about, we have talked about that map of the house when you actually look at the rooms that we actually use, so you can imagine if you are living in a 4 bedroom house and you are only using 2 of the rooms that is a lot of responsibilities and to do’s that don’t even serve you and maybe you really love gardening but you are on a huge acreage property and it is literally, it doesn’t serve you to try and jump on your ride on mower and you know mow it every week. 

BONNIE: No

LILY: So you know downsizing can be a really good option in that respect

BONNIE: Yeah absolutely, less responsibility I think is really good, especially as we get older and we have gone through those difficult years of um raising children and then helping raise grandchildren and it is time for a little bit of us time, you know like to kind of wind it back and stop going so hard at it, I think our culture really does go a little bit too, year I think a little bit too fast, I think it is like we are on a travelator that doesn’t ever stop and you know you need to kind of work it slowly winding that down when you get older. 

LILY: Yeah I agree

BONNIE: I think another reason why downsizing is a great idea is that you have got less costs, you have got a smaller house, a smaller property that means smaller rates, less electricity

LILY: Yes

BONNIE: Less water, um less bills to pay because maybe because if you are outsourcing your gardening and your cleaning and other home maintenance jobs, there is less of that you have got to pay because it is a smaller property

LILY: Maybe you have multiple cars and a few boats and

BONNIE: A few boats, who needs more than one, I mean really

LILY: I am sure people who are into fishing and boating

BONNIE: I would be happy with one

LILY: But you know maybe realistically you kept one because just in case, but maybe realistically you barely use it, 

BONNIE: Who keeps a boat just in case? I mean I am sure there are people but yeah

LILY: Maybe he kept it as a project

BONNIE: Maybe it is the old dingy that you are going to redo or something like that

LILY: And that is it. You know so another reason to downsize is to save the cost on those things because often they are things where you pay registration, so that is another thing to consider as well

BONNIE: Yeah rego sucks, that is for sure

LILY: I think another great reason for downsizing for anybody is and we talk about this quite a bit is being able to find the things you need the first time and if you are imaging this in a scenario of someone who is elderly you don’t want their life and the people that you love that are older to be harder than it needs to be, you know there are a lot of challengers that come about from older age and you know things might get a bit more physically challenging, sometimes our memory you know may not be all there when we are a lot older

BONNIE: Well mines not all there now so I cannot imagine

LILY: It is kind of down hill isn’t it

BONNIE: What it is going to be like in 40 years, it is a scary thought

LILY: But you know you don’t want that life to be harder so if you are already trying in the day to make sure that they are on top of things and they have got those challenges physically and mentally you don’t want to add clutter into the mix

BONNIE: No that’s true and you do want to be able to find the exact boat that you want the first time, yeah you don’t want to have to go digging for it. 

LILY: Not through your 17 boats

BONNIE: No, no definitely not.  The other thing that is really good for why you should downsize is that obviously frees up a lot of time for the things that you actually love to do, so when you don’t have as much time um needed to spend on you know maintaining the lawn, and maintaining a large home and cleaning a large home then you can actually spend more time doing the things that you love and maybe that is gardening, maybe that is going to the club, going out for lunch, going out for bushwalks

LILY: What kind of club, do do do do do ….

BONNIE: Yeah, yeah rain all the way, no I am thinking more like a country club

LILY:  How posh

BONNIE: Or a you know like a sports club

LILY: You get to retirement to be able to sit back, relax and do the things that you want to do

BONNIE: Mm yeah well retirement is about that, I mean obviously you want to have things that keep you busy and feeling passionate and purposeful when you are retiring but being able to downsize your physical possessions and the physical property that you own, it just means that you have got to, I think a bit more freedom to go out and chase some of those dreams that maybe you had put off for a long-time because you were encumbered. 

LILY: One of the things that I am looking forward to when I finally do retire in many many years is the opportunity to travel and see the world again, kind of like I already had the privilege to do, I would love to continue to do it, and I think downsizing is probably something that would help with that as well, making it easy to be able to get up and jet set off and know that your small easy to manage home can be like cared for by a house sitter or a family member

BONNIE: You know one thing I have also wanted to do and I don’t know when if ever I will be able to do this, maybe in my golden years, I would love to just up at the airport with a suitcase full of kind of random stuff and just jump on the next plane

LILY: That would be so liberating

BONNIE: Like how terrifying but how fun at the same time

LILY: I would love to see you at the airport when it turned out to be like a really random destination, you are like, maybe the next one

BONNIE: But see you would have the freedom to do that. 

LILY: Freedom

BONNIE: Yeah that’s right

LILY: I think we have kind of missed of the major points of why we should downsize and help those who are close to us who are elderly to do that and you know lets not beat around the bush here, if this is someone who is in their later stages of life and maybe they do have rapidly declining health or they are just older, at some point their time

BONNIE: You are really just paying someone out to be in the like the palliative care ward like everybody listening right now is like oh that’s it I am about the shuffle off this mortal coil tomorrow

LILY: But when you are experiencing poor health or declining health or you are getting much older, you don’t want to have to worry about all these kinds of things, you want to be completely mentally aware of the decision that you are making, so choosing to downsize earlier rather than later helps ease the burden for yourself and for your children who are helping

BONNIE:  Mmmm

LILY: But also when the time comes that you do pass away your children aren’t encountering a mammoth job as well as grieving. 

BONNIE: Well this is getting very morbid but it is a good example because I wanted to talk about when our grandparents were starting to um decline, I was actually going to say downsize but anyway sure decline, no so they

LILY: Well one was, sorry it depends on the case

BONNIE: Yep so when our grandparents who lived you know about an hour and a half away on a lovely little farm property

LILY: The steepest driveway you have ever driven up

BONNIE: Oh my goodness

LILY: I use to think my car would flip over backwards

BONNIE: Yeah it was pretty hectic actually. 

LILY: But they had a gorgeous big property and they had all these coffee trees and banana trees

BONNIE:  Do you remember flying fox

LILY: Flying foxes and greenhouses and chicken coupes and woodturning shed and a beautiful big house and beautiful view and it was just lovely but at some point managing a property like that is just huge

BONNIE: It is too much, absolutely huge and I remember when Mum told us yep okay they are moving and they are moving into like an aged care or an over 55’s or something retirement village.  I thought oh yep have fun will all the decluttering and downsizing of all their stuff because it is a huge property; it was like 9 ½ acres I think. You know there is sheds after sheds, after sheds and there is a 4-bedroom house and there is an under stairs area and there was just a lifetime of stuff.  You know 20 years I think 25 years of them living there and there are a whole of lot of stuff there so it is just like, okay yep we have got to work really hard to actually get through and do this and thankfully they were in a really good state of mind and they were in pretty good physical health that the whole process of downsizing wasn’t um so difficult and then they moved to this retirement village and they went from yeah this huge 4 bedroom

LILY: To about 2 bedrooms

BONNIE: I think it was technically 2 ½ so it was like 2 and study

LILY: Yeah they seriously culled

BONNIE: They seriously culled but you know what is really really funny, when they actually were moving out the of the retirement village into the next phase when our grandpa was going into palliative care and our grandma was going into like a hostel, I was helping declutter that place and I remember finding in their bathroom, 2 things of memory.  One was this gorgeous gold chain that our grandma had lost and it was in the back of some draw in the bathroom and she was so thrilled that I had found it but I also found all of our toothbrushes from when we were about 10

LILY: What

BONNIE: Yeah they still had our names on them

LILY: Did they

BONNIE: Yeah yeah

LILY: Did you take a photo of it

BONNIE: Oh I probably did, I don’t know if I would still have it

LILY: Oh that is something I have to see

BONNIE: But yeah if I can find it, like it was really obvious cause mum obviously went for the like primary colours, there was like a red, yellow and green I think

LILY: Just in case I needed to brush my teeth, just as someone who has done plenty of dental assisting in my time I would like to put out a PSA that you could only be using your toothbrush for about 3 months and then it needs to go in the bin

BONNIE: Yeah yeah don’t use it 20 years later when you re discover it

LILY: Unless you are using it to clean in your house and that is a different story. 

BONNIE: That is totally fine

LILY: Just not in your mouth

BONNIE: No just not in your mouth, so yeah that was interesting finding things like that in amongst their stuff and that whole process of helping them go though a life time of memories was a bit tricky at times because there was not a whole lot of pre planning it was more like, oh okay we are up to this phase where we are downsizing to the hostel and the palliative care

LILY:  I think that is what often happens too is  

BONNIE: Yeah

LILY: We are prompted by the event as opposed to thinking ahead

BONNIE: Yes it was like we are reactive instead of proactive and our grandfathers health had started seriously declining and so it was like okay we have got to get this moving on um and so it was in a matter of weeks and it was this flurry of activity trying to get things sorted and organised and I mean once we got down to it now what’s there is our grandfather passed away quite a few years now, maybe 5 years and our grandmother lives

LILY: She lives in one room

BONNIE: She lives in a bedsit and so like you image they have gone from this huge 4-bedroom property 9 ½ acre property to just having a bedsit

LILY: And the idea of that can be really overwhelming but if you think ahead in the downsizing process it really helps you get from A to what ended up being BCD down the track

BONNIE: Yeah it wasn’t just a one step process

LILY: No

BONNIE: Not only did she go to the hostel from this retirement village but she has also since then gone into high care as her memory has deteriorated and her physical condition has deteriorated so there can be this real stepping down process and it is like this paring back of stuff and so you know we as grandkids and the rest of the family have all benefited from their physical items and things that hold memories of them and you have got I think is it a buffet unit  

LILY: It is beautiful, it is the envy of some many of my other family members on the other side of the family who have borrowed it and seen it while I was overseas because it is absolutely gorgeous but you are bringing up a point that I wanted to dive into just a little bit before we take a break and so you did a similar thing with our Oma, our Dutch grandma, you know she had deteriorating health but while she was still quite mentally acute, you had conversations with her about downsizing but also about where she wanted each of these really special items to go

BONNIE: Oh yes I forget about that

LILY: And so she was so trilled because she was a part of the assigning process but it still might live in her house right because you know, so say she had a really beautiful special lamp and she was like I want to give this to my daughter and her daughter really wanted and her daughter knew about it

BONNIE: Yep

LILY: And so she was a part of that whole process of naming where things would go and so

BONNIE: bequeathing.

LILY: even though there was this inevitable transfer of her stuff from her life then going to be going out to everybody else she like was empowered in the process and so we knew that everything, there was a lot of intentionality with everything so the downsizing process even though it is overwhelming and it is emotional and it is hard for the person involved and it is hard for the family it is so essential and you can be such an advocate and a supporter and a cheerleader to help this person that you love in your life go through their stuff and help them prepare for the next phase and accept what was the pass and what is the present and what is going to be a part of the future. 

BONNIE: And that is probably the best thing that you have pointed out in-between,  the difference between our grandparents and our Oma, is that our grandparents the downsizing process for them was reactive, whereas for our Oma it was proactive and this is probably because she was on her own, you know our Opa died 20 years almost before she did and she had already kind of downsized into like independent living unit in a retirement village and so she had been there for close to 20 years so I had helped her over probably 4or 5 years already downsizing, we had started in her garage because she wasn’t driving any longer and so there was a whole lot of stuff in there she didn’t use and then we actually slowly went though the house and we created a memory box and we did the bequeathing thing which is really cool up to do because she was really big into tapestry so she had these amazing tapestries that she had made and we would go around each of the items and she would say oh this is for this person, and I would write a little name and attach it to it and take a photo as well with the name next to it, just to have a bit a catalogue cause I didn’t want to rely on my memory being able to remember who was having what and the great thing is, she had 5 children, she had already talked to each of them about what she wanted to bequeath to them and to all of the grandchildren and so everybody already knew what was coming which was really exciting because she knew that her things were going to know to be loved and cherished and everybody knew what they were getting and they were happy with what they were getting and it was just a much easier process because the decluttering happened slowly over 3-4 years and when her health started declining and she started losing her memory and she started getting lost in weird places and you know things started looking like oh this is not really safe for her to be in independent living anymore, we didn’t have to worry about oh my goodness we have got you know 2-3 bedrooms worth of houseful of stuff that we have to declutter and get out in 2 days, that is how long they gave you when you moved out of the independent living units, they gave you two days to have your stuff cleared out, so I was so grateful that when she moved into the care facility that all that decluttering had been done and the stuff that was left over was literally things that we gave to Friends with Dignity which is a local domestic violence charity that helps you know find accommodation for women and for families who are fleeing from DV, so it was all the sentimental stuff had been done, it was just the physical useful practical stuff that was left and it just made it so much easier being proactive rather than reactive.   

LILY: So I think we have totally covered the great reasons why you should consider downsizing, doing it ahead of time, getting on top of it alright so how do we do it? What are the roadblocks we might encounter, what do we do and what do we not do? and we will jump into that straight after the break. 

CLUTTER CONFESSIONS;

WACKY CONFESSIONS ANONYMOUS CALLER 1: Hey Bonnie, Lily my clutter confession is I collect all of my programs from every theatre performance, every music venue, music artist I go to see, I have kept them all, I have no idea what to do with them um but yeah that is my clutter confession is just my music programs. 

LILY:  Oh what to do with them, you could definitely put them in a memory box but if like going to the theatre and going to see performers is like a really big thing for you and it is a part of your identity why not find a cool way to put that kind of stuff on display

BONNIE: It sounds like more of a collection rather than just memorabilia so I think absolutely find a way to honour it and display it and you know when you go to peoples houses and they have like a really cool beer can collection or they have got a really retro diner style rumpus room or bar area of something like that, that sort of décor fits perfectly in there,  so if this person has like a really small flat and they can’t fit this stuff in and they are kind of looking at thinking why have I still got it then maybe it is time to find someone who is a bit of a collector who is a bit of a music fanatic who would appreciate it in their place but I think it really needs to be honoured and displayed in someway so that when people come over they can be like oh cool and have a look through

LILY: Look at all the plays you have seen, look at all the you know the artists you have seen, I think maybe they are in a position as well where they are in that age where they can hang photos

BONNIE: Like with a peg, string

LILY: Yeah with the mini pegs and things like that. Like what’s to say you couldn’t make a feature out of it

BONNIE: Definitely

LILY: Um potentially does this person have photos of themself going to the theatre, you know out the front of the theatre and like have those in-between or something like that, like

BONNIE: There are lots of options

LILY: If it is something that is really special to you, I think it is, if you can display it a cool collection like that that would be a cool way to do it. 

BONNIE: Yeah even if you turned it into sort of like a coffee table book, I mean sometimes the programs can be really crazy sizes

LILY: Yeah that’s true

BONNIE: But if they are not too bad, like put it into you know a display folder with plastic sheets or even just like a box or have a really pretty basket as your centre piece on your coffee table and have them just horizontally stacked in there so people can come and riffle through them. 

LILY: Yeah sit down and find out who was the leading actress on that show on Broadway or in West End or wherever

BONNIE: Yeah I always find those playbill and the programs really interesting to read back through, like my husband and I when we went to Europe in 2011 I think it was we saw a show at the Moulin Rouge and that was always a big bucket list thing for me and we brought the play program for that and brought it back and like I look at it, I actually did get rid of it last year, I looked at it last year and just laughed because you know it is Moulin Rouge so everybody is very scantily dressed and I thought I don’t really want my kids to stumble across this so I might just pass this on but it was cool like it evoked some great memories and stuff because otherwise yeah you have got photos and you have got memories in your head obviously to remember but there is something sometimes about that physicalness of ho9lding the playbill or the program. 

LILY: Yeah for sure.  We want to hear what weird, wacky and wonderful things you have held onto so send us in your clutter confession, just search Little Home Organised on Facebook and then you can just flick us an audio message on the page and don’t worry we all keep it anonymous. 

MUSIC

BONNIE: Okay so we have been talking about helping a loved one who is a bit older prepare to downsize, one of the things that you will come, that we all come across when we are doing this is the sentimental clutter, so lets talk about how to deal with sentimental clutter

LILY: So I think the biggest thing to remember when we are approaching sentimental clutter is the attachment is to the memory more than it is to the object and so trying to identity that and separate the two can help you when you are making decisions about whether something is stays or it is time for it to go. 

BONNIE: That can be really difficult to do actually the separating the memory from the object and I think we do get really hung up on looking at something and that physical item really triggering the memories response for us but we do need to remember that the memory is actually locked away inside of our brain, it is just a physical item and that is where that separation can be invaluable. 

LILY: I can get that, like you look at that item and it evokes such a strong feeling in you but if you are moving down to a smaller house or you physically can’t take everything it is a case of something has got to give and so what are some of the things we do, is it do we take photos of the time so we can still look at it and go oh and smile and think fondly of it, or potentially we go through a bunch of items that hold a similar memory and we hold onto the one with strongest sensation and the strongest memory for us. 

BONNIE: Mmm it is that whole idea of if everything is special then nothing is special and when I think about say our Oma and the things that we have now from her there is two things in particular that I are really special to me, one of them is a set of Delft tea light candle holders and she I remember the day distinctly, they were in her China cabinet, she pointed them out and she said would you like these, I think you would like these and I said oh I would love those, thank you so much um and I use them on special occasions and every time I use them I think of her and un she loved Delft and she had so much Delft and it just it is a really special memory for me to be able to use those and the other thing that I have got which I think we have probably talked about in the podcast before is our Opa’s wedding ring and I was actually really surprised that none of our uncles or our dad wanted his wedding ring but no one was interested in it and I just love it, like it is this you know yellow gold ring with a black onyx stone in it and it is very manly and masculine so I don’t wear it super often but I got it polished up and it needed a bit of repair work and our Oma wore that after he died you know for 20 years and so I went through my

LILY: It is a connection to him through her

BONNIE: It is a huge

LILY: it is beautiful and it is like there would have been tons of clothing and belongings that he owned when he passed away but you know you pick those one or two items that really like connect you to that person say goodbye to the other stuff and that will help you hold that memory and keep it alive but also be reasonable and practical in your living situation which is going to be a lot smaller

BONNIE: You know there was one other item that I would have kept had it lasted the distance and this was a leather jacket that Oma bought when we were all in Holland together in 2013 and it was this crazy peach colour and when she bought it, she came back from shopping with her sister who was 14 years younger and the smile on her face was just gorgeous I mean she was 85, early 80s at that point and so she is just this funny gorgeous old woman with this bright peach coloured leather jacked and it fit me perfectly and I loved it and so after she passed away I kept it and then I found out it was vinyl because it started flacking off

LILY: Oh no

BONNIE: And I was so devastated, quality guys, quality it is just so important

LILY: Well I am glad she got to see it while it was still in one piece. 

BONNIE:  Yeah that’s right

LILY: So, if you are struggling with sentimental clutter one of the things that you can do is go through like a series of questions and we have talked about these before and we will refresh them for you now.

BONNIE: So when they are looking at items in their house help them by posing these questions:  Have you used this item in the last 2 years? Will you need it in the future? Do you have multiples of this item and do I love this item, does it make your heart sing?  If it doesn’t make your heart sing how does it make you feel because if it makes you feel negative emotions then that’s usually a really good indicator that it is probably not something we should hold onto. 

LILY: Is this item in their house being used to its full potential, is it something that if you got rid of it and they happen to need it in the future, it would be easy or affordable to replace if need be

BONNIE: And the last question to ask yourself or your loved one when helping them downsize, why am I holding onto to this, what is the hold it has over me.   

LILY: So, lets talk about roadblocks Bonnie because this is one of the things that holds a lot of people back, so one of the reasons is the classic donate issue, there is a bunch of stuff and you could take it to the general charity shop but some things are really quirky, it is like I don’t know where to donate this random item to. 

BONNIE: And I do then to find that with the older generations there is a bit of technology phobia happening and it can feel like a bit overwhelming to actually go and search for charities and search for where you should donate and stuff like that but the most important thing is get someone on your team who doesn’t have that techno phobia who can help you search for a local charity, a local shelter, a local whatever it is where you can donate those practical used goods to. 

LILY: The other roadblock that we have clearly just covered as well is the sentimentality like that is the biggest roadblock with downsizing

BONNIE: Oh definitely and I think especially when it comes to wanting to sell things that are antiques, we place a lot of emotional value on them and so think that they are actually worth a lot more than someone else is willing to pay for them. 

LILY: And then another roadblock of course is the classic oh my goodness how could I possibly sell this or donate it, I spent so much money on it. 

BONNIE: Yes and maybe it is something that they spent a lot of money on but they never used or they didn’t use it to their full potential so they are kind of wanting to hold onto it to like drain every last bit of value out of it. 

LILY: Yeah there is a little bit of guilt sitting there and that is how you try to address the guilt is this holding onto to this prospect that you at some point use it. 

BONNIE: Yes and I think to try and overcome that you need to actually stop and think the money was already sunk as soon as you bought the item so if it is not actually serving you it is costing you in some way, whether it is um costing you to have a bigger house because you have got some many items in this basket or whether it just costing you that mental clutter of looking at something constantly and thinking I didn’t use that or I have never used that. 

LILY: SO there are plenty of roadblocks and things to be aware of when trying to help a senior downsize but what are some of things we can do, number one, go slow and steady, you want to be giving them as much control as they can handle but doing it at a pace that is still productive but is considerate and courteous of the process that that person needs to go through. 

BONNIE: I think that giving them control thing is really important because if you come in and you kind of railroad someone into your standards and your decisions and what you want to achieve out of it then you have missed the point entirely.  I think if you are going to help a loved one, whether it is a parent, grandparent or a special senior to downsize you need to put yourself in their shoes, it is a very vulnerable position to be in and you need to really respect the fact that they are allowing you to help them with that because that is a real privilege.   

LILY: And also the fact that they are ready and willing to downsize and they are approaching the process with you, that is big some people are still hesitant to take that first step so don’t forget that that is a really big thing as well

BONNIE: A really important thing to do when you are helping someone downsize is actually to give them time, so let them dwell in the memories, don’t push them to go faster than they are ready to go and let them say goodbye. 

LILY: Yes having the opportunity to sit there, remember, feel, process is a really important part, they are looking back on a lifetime of memories and for a lot of us who are younger we are not necessarily going to understand that yet until we get to that age so really being patient and courteous is important. 

BONNIE: Yeah it is all about the respect and you know what if they need to hug something or kiss something or say goodbye to it out loud that is okay.  Like it is just part of the process of letting go

LILY: Being supportive through the process and the one thing to keep in mind as well is this can be hugely taxing emotionally, mentally and physically on the person as well as you, so do consider outsourcing if you find that some of this is beyond your capabilities. So, investigate the services of a professional organiser because this is one of the things they do, they come in and they help you through this process, consider speaking to someone, be it a councillor or a psychologist to help with this process.  There are resources available. 

BONNIE: When considering outsourcing if you are not sure how to go things like the assessments that need to be done when people are getting older and their health is declining, or you are not sure how to do the legal side of things, or you are not sure of how to do the removalist or the apply for the retirement village or whatever it might be, this is the time for you to actually outsource and get help because chances are if you are helping someone whether it is a parent or grandparent downsize you are probably in a really busy time of life yourself and you might not have a whole lot of spare time so make the investment in a professional who is going to be a lot faster than you at getting this stuff done and who can take that worry of your mind. 

LILY: No one expects you to be an expert in all of these areas so be gracious to yourself and consider that someone else may be able to help you and the senior in your life.  Now Bonnie what are some of the things we shouldn’t do when we are trying to help someone downsize?

BONNIE: (Yawn) Oh sorry oh my goodness.  Um the reason I am going oh is that I hear so many people who have good intentions and they want to go and help their loved one downsize but then it just goes horribly wrong and really pair shaped.  The most important thing is do not boss them, do not bully them, it is a real privilege and an honour that they are allowing you to help them do this, don’t take that for granted

LILY: No and I think it is often you know, in some cases it is unintentional, be mindful that your agenda is not necessarily their agenda

BONNIE: Mmm definitely, and don’t start with the sentimental stuff, I don’t how many times we have said it, you have to practice decluttering, you have to flex your muscles and getting someone who has maybe not decluttered in 50 or 60 years to start with their memorabilia and their photos of their husband and their love letters from war, no that is not a good idea, start with the really practical everyday stuff. 

LILY: Yeah you may see those random pieces of furniture in their house that seem to be unused but are highly sentimental to them and think that is a good place to start, why would I start with their random bits of clothing or their cutlery draw but trust us the method is you have got to start with those simple non sentimental items.  Of course another thing to consider is while it is a family affair, it doesn’t need to be a family occasion, don’t bring every man, woman and child and their dog into the process. 

BONNIE: Yes or yes, especially for people who are getting on in years and probably enjoy a lot of quiet, it needs to be just one on one, there cant be a whole host of people doing a whole lot of stuff because then they are going to feel overwhelmed, they are going to feel railroaded and they are going to feel like the control is completely taken out of their hands which is not what you want to them. 

LILY: So having a helping hand is important, you having support during the process of helping someone is important too but just be realistic about the number of people that are coming into this home because while that number might not overwhelm you it may overwhelm someone who is use to living by themselves and running their house how they like to run it. 

BONNIE:  So there are 3 strategies that we like to recommend for people when it comes to downsizing in particular, the first one is called: dostadning which is actually Swedish Death Cleaning and there is book that you can read on this by Marga Magdinson and it is all about the proactive side of downsizing, so this is what to do if your not at that oh goodness I have got to downsize and get out quick, not the reactive phase but if you are at the proactive phase where you can see that in that in the next 5-10 years you are going to want to downsize and you can start the process. 

The second strategy that we like to use is the Pack the Keepers one, and this is basically when you are packing up, you are just literally packing the stuff that you are keeping, you leave everything else in the cupboards or where it is and that way a charity or a friend can come along and know that everything that has been left behind is okay to go, it is okay to get donated, it is okay to get sold, it is okay to get rubbished if it is rubbish so that is the second strategy that you can use. 

The third strategy that you can use is literally pick out the duds, so this is where before you are needing to move so maybe in the weeks, months, years before you are wanting to downsize, you literally go out and just open a cupboard look at all the glasses and just pick out the ones that you don’t want, so that one is called pick out the duds. 

LILY: So there are few strategies there that you can try so see which one of those you think sounds good for you and you can give that one a go.  Alright Bonnie I think it is time to wrap up, what is this weeks tidy task

BONNIE: So this tidy task is really simple,  if you have got a special senior or a grandparent or parent in your life who needs to downsize or wants to downsize, it is time to sit down and have a little chat with them about it, ask them what they want to achieve, how they are feeling about the task, would they like you to help them to downsize, would they like a professional to help them, just basically open the conversation, get it started about the process of downsizing and what it might look like and how you can help and the most important thing about that is reassure them that they are going to be in control, they are going to decide what is going to stay, what is going to go, you are not going to bully them into making decisions that suit your agenda. 

LILY: So best of luck and if you are looking for extra support throughout the process feel free to jump onto the Little Home Organised Community group and reach out there, but that’s it for this weeks episode and thank you so much to everyone for tuning in we know how busy life can be and really appreciate you lending us your ears. 

BONNIE: And remember PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. 

LILY: See you later

BONNIE: Bye

 

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