Why Downsizing Can Be Emotional

For many seniors, downsizing can be a tender topic. Imagine having to let go of the belongings that hold the memories of your marriage or raising your family. Perhaps downsizing means moving from the home that your loved one has come to know and love. It’s a very emotional process and one that should not be taken lightly. We want to help you understand the feelings that your loved one is experiencing and how you can help soften their intensity. Read on for more.

Moving, in general, is emotional

Whether a person has moved every year or almost never, moving is an extremely emotional situation.  According to a study done by Berkeley University, even though moving is exciting, people can go through a series of emotions that include fear, sadness, and even grief. So, let’s imagine that we are in our loved one’s position, perhaps having lived in this home with our spouses and family for years on end. This chapter of life ending can evoke some intense feelings that are difficult to work through.  

How your loved one is feeling

There are several feelings your loved one may be experiencing and trying to work through. Some of them may include:

  • Fear and uncertainty – Where will they go? What can they take with them? What will you do with everything else? Will they be happy in their new home? These are all questions that your loved one may be asking and not having the answers can cause them to feel stressed. 
  • Sadness – As with anything we have had for a long time, there is a period of mourning after a loss. A home is not only filled with things but contains many memories. Your loved one could be feeling the loss of those memories and things due to downsizing. 
  • Anger or frustration – When your loved one moved into their current home, perhaps they thought it was their forever home. Now, due to other circumstances, it is necessary for them to move again and it causes frustration which can become feelings of anger. 
  • Loss of control – As people get older, they want to hold on to stuff because they have emotional ties and it reminds them of happier times in their past. For some, it’s about control. They feel that they have lost control in so many other areas of their lives, that holding on to things allows them to feel in control. 

How you can help

It’s important to present the downsizing in ways that are not emphasizing that your loved one is too old to live in this home anymore. Find ways to present it that enhance the positive that will come out of being in a smaller location. Find other advantages that they will come to appreciate in time. 

Listen to your loved one. Allow them to express their emotions and to own them before forcing them to move on. Recognizing and dealing with these emotions and addressing the underlying issues can be a way to help your loved one overcome any issues that could potentially lead to hoarding

Allow them to oversee their downsizing. Let them pick out what is important to them and will help their new place feel like home. We had one client at Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care that had an incredible collection of carved duck decoys that he had made, he also had sports posters hanging on the wall. He had them arranged on a shelf and when the time came for his downsizing, he wanted to be sure that those collections made the move with him. 

Another instance is a woman that was moved into an assisted living facility. She had a collection of teaspoons from around the world. Her family made sure that her collection was together and mounted on the wall when she came into her new room for the first time. She immediately felt like she was home.

Downsizing can be emotional, but it can be full of positive emotions as well. If you are looking for assistance in ways to help your loved one with the downsizing process, we at Shepherd’s Staff would be happy to make some recommendations and give some suggestions to make this move go as smoothly as possible. 

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