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Caregiver Tips for Dignified Senior Downsizing After Death of a Spouse

via Jennifer Scott
Source: Pixabay

Caregivers are those who look after the personal welfare and needs of seniors who can’t take care of themselves. A caregiver is usually a volunteering relative or someone hired for the task, and it’s a job function that becomes more important day by day. After a certain age, it can become near impossible for a Senior to maintain their daily routines or lifestyles.

Many married seniors have spent a lifetime together in one home, accumulating lots of possessions and assuming things will never change; however, change and death are inescapable parts of life. The death of a spouse can be earth-shattering for a senior, and the need to Downsize and part with a lifetime’s worth of possessions can be just as traumatizing.

These sudden life changes can be too much for a senior to deal with. After the death of a spouse, a senior can experience depression and withdraw from reality or lose purpose in life. Accepting the need to downsize can make a senior can feel like they are losing their identity and everything they value. For caregivers, this creates a great challenge in finding ways to help the senior through such dramatic life changes with dignity.

Make the Senior a Part of the Process

If given the choice, most seniors wouldn’t want to downsize. After the loss of a spouse, the subject of downsizing might make a senior feel isolated or that decisions are being made without their input. As their caregiver, it’s important for you to stress to them the need to downsize. Ask their permission to downsize but also be persuasive. As HomeAdvisor suggests,  “Having fewer financial- and maintenance-related responsibilities will allow you to focus more on your happiness and less on your home.” It’s a tough pitch, but with a little encouragement you can help them make the decision.

Seniors become very attached to possessions. But as with explaining the need to downsize a home, it’s equally important to downsize their possessions. Explain the issues of no longer being able to maintain their current house and possessions, but suggest ways to make it feel less upsetting. Encourage your senior charge to think of loved ones who would benefit or enjoy certain keepsakes or treasures. Then you can help them make a list of things to keep, to sell and to give away.

Selling or auctioning items is one way to boost your seniors cash flow, so underscore the benefits of this. Charitable giving is another way to give them peace of mind, as donating unwanted items to those in need can provide feelings of usefulness. Make sure that you personally tend to jewelry, heirlooms and sentimental items connected to the lost spouse. Knowing that a trusted friend is helping with these treasures that connect them to their past can help ease anxiety about an uncertain future. It’s helpful to remind your senior of the benefits of making these changes as you help them plan their future. Explain that they are parting with old items to make room for a new chapter in their life.

Hire Senior-Friendly Movers

Some seniors don’t have enough family, friends or time to sell a house, downsize possessions and move into a smaller home. Moving companies that specialize in sympathetically downsizing seniors is a growing industry, so consider hiring a professional. Headed by “senior move managers,” such movers can start the downsizing process quickly and efficiently. These companies can help with item sorting, selling, donating and packing. They can photograph item arrangements in the home to be sold and recreate the arrangement as close as possible in the new home. Also, they will patiently listen to seniors talk about items and pack according to their directions.

Some seniors can’t afford such services. In that case, make sure that you begin the downsizing process two months or more before the scheduled move -- you can’t downsize a home and life in a single weekend.

Take Care of Yourself

As a caregiver, it’s important to remember your own well-being. Guard yourself against depression or feelings of guilt. Even though your senior charge is managing a swirl of emotions, you are just as liable to feel them, too. Take the time to practice self-care as much as possible. Even if it’s little things like stopping to read a book or go for a walk. It’s harder to care for others when you are having trouble taking care of yourself.

It can be tough, helping a senior transition from the pain of spousal loss into the uncertain future of independence. But with careful planning, encouragement, and the help of professionals, you can make these changes easier for your senior, and more manageable for you as a caregiver.


Jennifer Scott shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.

This post first appeared on The Good Grief, please read the originial post: here

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Caregiver Tips for Dignified Senior Downsizing After Death of a Spouse


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