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Downsizing & Dementia: Decluttering During COVID-19

 Posted by Paul Ellsworth on February 22, 2021 at 1:00 PM

Downsizing & Dementia: Decluttering During COVID-19

Many families are struggling with layers of complexity as they assure their senior loved ones are safe and secure during the COVID-19 crises AND try to figure out which possessions should go or stay for a memory-impaired senior preparing to move. In addition, your senior loved one knows how priceless—whether monetary or personal— their items are, and simultaneously may be the least available to help you.

While the task ahead is certainly a difficult one, we have tips that could help you make the transition a little easier for both you and your loved ones.

When communicating and planning, keep these tips in mind –

Communicate Lovingly

Continue to communicate patiently with your loved ones throughout the decluttering process. This will help them feel peaceful about this difficult time and minimize confusion, outbursts or refusals to be involved. Keep the conversation simple to follow. The shorter and clearer the conversation, the better. Approach any changes with positive and transparent communication. Then use written notes or lists to provide physical reminders of your plans.

Listen Effectively

Downsizing and decluttering can be very stressful for a senior, especially while COVID-19 may affect the way they interact with those they love or in situations where they’re seeing their lifetime of collectibles and possessions go away. Be compassionate, caring, and intuitive. Take time to listen to your loved ones when they speak. If their wishes can’t be fulfilled it is still comforting to have thoughts and opinions heard.


After discussing your plans, use these tips to prepare for the moving process –

Decluttering Before the Downsize

After communicating the need and benefits with your parents and family members, solidify your plans for organizing their space and work in phases to put your plan into action. Working in phases will allow you and your support team to make decluttering more manageable.

Start the process by removing items that are admittedly no longer needed.

Encourage your loved one to let go of items that are unnecessary. Reiterate the positive benefits of the items finding new use and purpose with new owners.

Next, clear items you no longer have space for.

Most households acquire a host of cherished and treasured items over time that are connected to fond memories. Clearing items your loved one will not have space for can reduce the level of upkeep needed in their new space.

Continue to declutter in weekly and monthly intervals to prepare for the move.

Execute the routine and schedule you discussed to make downsizing simpler for your parent(s) or loved one. Keep everyone inspired by selecting specific task times and days.

Decide on convenient places to keep high use items.

Make the most used areas of your loved one’s space a priority for the items they love and use most. The more convenient and familiar the placement the better.

Use decorative and multipurpose storage options.

Some of the items cluttering Mom or Dad’s home like baskets, photo frames, or serving carts can be repurposed to create stylish extra storage options.

Factor in social distancing requirements and COVID-19 safety protocols.

Some of your expectations for decluttering your loved one’s home may yield a different reality when social distancing and safety are factored in. It’s ok to acknowledge and adjust for that with the family members and friends helping your loved one through this process.

Managing the Downsizing Move

If the next move after decluttering is with you, a loved one, or into a care facility, create a plan for how moving safely looks. Depending where the move is, a plan for a move without family members involved is wise. Don’t be afraid to find a professional partner like Caring Transitions that cares about the well-being of everyone involved and takes the proper precautionary measures for your safety and that of your loved ones.


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