Thanks for the insightful piece on downsizing by contributor Lacey Sikora [Upscale advice for downsizers, WJ Homes, March 25]. As someone who works daily to help older adults downsize, I believe the difficulty of the process can’t be underscored enough. 

I spent a good deal of December, for example, going room-by-room with an 86-year-old woman through her home of 40 years, helping her decide what to take with her to an assisted living facility. In addition to her full house of furniture and several closets’ worth of clothes, the woman had her wedding china, her mom’s wedding china and several sets of everyday china. 

Guidelines from her new assisted situation asked her to pare her dinnerware down to four glasses and four plates. This is emotionally brutal stuff. When the time comes to move or clean out a family home, be sensitive to how people’s emotional connections to certain things can present a downsizing challenge that is bigger than the items themselves. 

While helping a parent or friend decide what to keep, donate, trash or sell when downsizing, recognize their emotional ties and family memories. 

Some suggestions for this include: 

Document major events in family history to give future generations a sense of place and reference. 

Compile an album or find a website that allows users to upload pictures of items and provide visual proof and permanent records so physical mementos may then be dispersed. 

Digitize important family documents and pictures of special items that can then be quickly and economically organized into files or custom family books for sharing across a wide geography. 

Gift items in a to-be-downsized home to younger relatives and friends who will appreciate and bring new life to them. Young families may truly appreciate the gift of a treasured christening gown, crocheted blanket or copper tea pot. An avid fisherman would love to display great-grandpa’s hand-tied lures. 

We hope that all older adults will eventually benefit from downsizing by enjoying a more stress-free, adventurous lifestyle than they can while caring for many possessions and a large home. 

But first things first: Be sensitive, out there! 

Meredith Morris

Owner, Caring Transitions of LaGrange-Oak Park

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