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  • Writer's pictureBenella

How to downsize elderly parents or a family home - my 5 stage plan as a professional downsizer

A lifetime of memories, families raised, friends nearby, a long term sense of community, no idea where to begin - there are many reasons why it is so hard to imagine how your senior loved ones would move away or to a smaller home. However, ill heath, a home too big to manage, bereavement or to be closer to family are some of the reasons why people need to.

A question I am often asked is "when should elderly parents downsize?" There is normally a trigger like one of the above, but it is still hard for any person to admit they cannot manage, that they need to leave the area or that the house is too big. Having helped 100's of clients downsize, my biggest advice is not to leave it too late. Move when they are active enough to make new friends, build a new community and enjoy their new (smaller) home.

My FREE e-book HELPING YOUR ELDERLY LOVED ONES DOWNSIZE TO A NEW HOME - THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO STARTING THE CONVERSATION is full of tips on how to overcome the hurdles of persuading senior family members to downsize.

I have been helping clients move to retirement apartments for many years now and also support families who have to sell their parent's homes following their death.

This hits hard for me as I learnt first hand about this when my parents passed away within 2 years of each other and I had to clear and sell my beloved family home during the pandemic.

If you are reading this as you are selling a family home after a bereavement, then points 2-4 apply. I also send you my love at such a difficult time!

*This post may contain affiliate links which don't cost you a penny but pay a commission to this site.

Here is my 5 stage plan to make the process easier:

Make a floor plan:

Using a floor plan of the new home or apartment, measure out furniture that they would like to take. Mark where it would go. Seeing it on a plan of the new home helps people to imagine what their new home would look like and also help to understand, that although currently they have 2 reception rooms, a dining room and spare bedrooms, the same furniture will not fit into the new home.

Once you have a fairly confirmed idea of what furniture and contents will be moving, arrange 3 x removal surveys and if budgets allow, include packing. This gives you a good idea on cost and also keeps options open for move date availability. I would always try to avoid moving on last Friday of the month!

Create an inventory of items to be moved on:

Make a list of items not being taken. This helps the task of disposing of items become more manageable. You can note whether an item is going to family, an auction house for sale, if the buyer is purchasing/keeping it, being donated to charity or if house clearance need to take it.


Visiting the new home and seeing the smaller kitchen may spur on the decluttering of 50+ mugs, numerous Pyrex dishes from many large Sunday lunches hosted in the past and countless ornaments that have space now, but won't in the new downsized home. When decluttering, ensuring you have an exit plan for items is the easiest way to get the job done. Dealing with sentimental items can be very challenging, ensure your loved one feels heard, items are preserved correctly and not discarded causing upset.

If you need further help on where items can be donated and recycled, click below to go to my Useful Info recycling guide.

Change of address:

Once a move date has been confirmed, sit down together with household files and start to go through a checklist of all companies to be notified of new address. Many can be done online. Set up the appropriate phone/broadband, council tax and other utilities for the new property.

Move day:

Having already had removal surveys done, you will already know if it is a 1 or 2 day move and what the timings are likely to be. Ensure as much as possible is organised in advance. Cleaning, where keys are going to be taken, journey to new home etc.

I always recommend taking medication, important documents, a clean bedding set and some kitchen items in the car so that you can settle your relative in without having to also unpack boxes straight away.

Consider booking a hotel or the guest suite of the retirement complex if that will be easier for your elderly loved one.

My moving home printable bundle in my Etsy store is super useful and includes guides, checklists and notes to help with all of the above.

For more support and private access to me, please join my private Facebook group on downsizing.

In conclusion, starting the conversation, dealing with family dynamics, bereavement and the task of a major life change for your loved ones is a difficult time. Going through these processes will make it easier and ultimately conclude with your senior loved ones settled into their new home for the next stage of their life.

I hope you liked this blog - please let me know and share with anyone you think may enjoy it 💞


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