Downsizing A Senior Loved One During A Pandemic

Dated: 08/03/2020

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Downsizing A Senior Loved One During A Pandemic   written by: Michael Longsdon of

Despite the coronavirus moving swiftly throughout the country, it’s not always possible for our most vulnerable population to shelter in place. There are still plenty of circumstances when a senior must relocate for their own health or well-being. Here’s how to handle safety concerns, money matters, and a few practical aspects of the process.

Address health concerns early.

Understandably, seniors may be reluctant to leave the relative safety of the place they call home. But if their home puts them in harm's way of issues like falling accidents, loneliness, or self-neglect, downsizing might be their only option. Start by letting them know how you plan to keep them safe throughout the process of cleaning, staging, selling, and moving. This might be anything from providing them with a mask and gloves to walking them through your cleaning and disinfecting routine.

Know their finances.

Even if you think your parents are financially stable, Forbes explains that more than half of all seniors today may not be able to afford their long-term care needs later. Fortunately, downsizing doesn’t necessarily mean assisted-living, and for generally healthy seniors, simply moving to a smaller house – single-story is ideal – can help them live independently and safely for many years. Talk with them about their finances, and then get an idea of the type of home they’d like to move to. And if they still have expendable cash they may even be able to learn how to generate an income by investing in real estate, starting with their new, smaller home. 

Research the area.

Before your senior funnels their money and energy into moving to a certain spot, take a few hours to get a better idea of how, exactly, their preferred city fits into their overall retirement plan. You might want to start by gauging affordability. In Aitkin County, which remains an affordable area, the average sale price within the last month stands at around $210,000, a comfortable number even for those on a fixed income. It’s always a good idea to connect with a knowledgeable realtor before purchasing a home. The expert realtors at RE/MAX Northland have a stellar reputation and the local connections necessary to put your senior in a home they’ll love. 

Keep their options open.

Although many seniors would prefer to stay in their own home, if their health is in decline, talk to them about the possibility of moving into an independent or assisted living setting. Make sure they understand the differences between both of these options. Independent living, for example, is a great choice for seniors that want the ultimate in freedom but don’t want to have to worry about keeping up with housekeeping. Assisted living, which, like independent living, offers communal spaces and tons of senior-friendly amenities, is a great choice for people who have trouble managing their daily hygiene routine or remembering to keep up with their medicine.

Other considerations.

There are a lot of moving parts that go into relocating, especially when you’re moving a senior out of their long-term home. A few other points to keep in mind include:

  • Be understanding when your senior is reluctant to get rid of personal belongings. It isn’t easy to downsize, and many older adults forget that they will have to declutter before relocating to smaller accommodations.

  • Plant the seeds of change early. Unless your loved one has come to you with the idea of moving, it might be best to mention it briefly weeks or months before you would like to initiate a serious conversation.

  • Make sure they have help. If you’re caregiving from afar, you may not be available to clean, sort, purge, and participate in the physical act of moving. Stay in touch with friends and family that live nearby and, if necessary, bring in extra hands, such as a housecleaner or moving company.

Making the decision to downsize a senior loved one during a global pandemic isn’t easy. But when it must be done, it pays to play it safe. Address safety concerns first, and then make sure their finances can handle their plans. You also want to do lots of research and take baby steps along the way.

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