Living in a big home is great for families. But often when the children have grown and left the nest, your elderly parents might find that that once bustling family home is a bit too big. When they make the decision to move to a smaller property, that comes with all sorts of issues – including reducing their belongings to fit into a smaller space. You might be called on to help in downsizing your elderly parents, which mean you’ll have to make some tough decisions, and maybe even be a bit ruthless. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go it alone. We have a few tips to help you out.

Be Sensitive

Before you even get as far as physically downsizing elderly parents, it’s important you approach the issue in a sensitive way. For a lot of elderly people their possessions are precious, holding memories from when they were children or of loved ones who have passed away. Some elderly parents may need a nudge to convince them that it’s time to clean out and downsize their belongings, but the way you approach that can make it an easy process or a difficult one for them. So instead of telling them they have to do it (which can make them feel attacked), try to say something a bit gentler. You can approach it from a ‘I finally got around to sorting out our garage, and you wouldn’t believe what I found! I needed to do this for me, and if you’d like I’d love to help you do the same?’. Or you could approach it as an adventure – going into the forgotten corners of the wardrobe and discovering hidden treasures. Looking through old mementos can be a great way to bond, and makes the process of downsizing elderly parents a little easier.

Try The ‘Four Boxes’ System

If your parents are struggling with the concept of reducing their possessions ready for downsizing, the four boxes system can be a really useful tool. Essentially, you help them to organise their belongings by putting four boxes in each room. Then help them go through all of the possessions in that room and sort them into one of the boxes. If the items are too big for the box, write them down on an index card and put that in the box, so you know where the item belongs. These four boxes represent:

  • Keep Until I Die: This box is for items with sentimental value, like family heirlooms, personal letters, wedding china and photo albums.
  • Appraise and Sell: or items that they don’t want or need any more, but have enough value to warrant selling.
  • Keep With Me: This box might be a metaphorical box, since it usually covers unsentimental items, like furniture and art.
  • Donate/Recycle: For those unwanted items


As you go through each room, you will undoubtedly find things your elderly parents forgot they even owned, as well as things they don’t need any more. This system is a simple and non-invasive way of helping them sift through their belongings, and it can bring back some nice memories along the way. This is a great method for downsizing your elderly parents in a simple, non-intimidating way.

Bring In A Professional

All too often adult children will feel obligated to help downsize elderly parents belongings – feeling that since they can do it, they should do it. And in some cases this works out well. But in others, combining a delicate parent-child dynamic with decades of dusty possessions can be a recipe for disaster. If you’re struggling with the idea of downsizing your elderly parents, then it might be time to bring in a professional instead.  Professional declutterers, senior moving companies and downsizers (like us) are perfectly suited to helping downsize elderly parents, reducing their possessions and managing the whole process. We are an impartial party who can help them go through their belongings, listen to their stories and help them work out what should be kept and what should be removed in a non-threatening way. We can even help them downsize and not move anywhere at all  – it’s all about removing the clutter and reducing the belongings down to what really adds value to their life.

At Home Care Removals, we don’t think downsizing your elderly parents should be a chore. But we do understand how challenging it can be to downsize your elderly parents, especially when you first approach it. That’s why we have designed our services to support you and your elderly parents through every step of the moving process, from reducing their belongings to moving into their new home. We will help your elderly parents decide what they want to keep from their belongings, pack them up and move them to their new home (and even unpack them again when we get there). I you would like to find out more, just get in touch with the team today.

Categories: Home Care Removals

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