Tips for Talking to Your Parents about Downsizing

Whether you suspect your loved one has senior hoarding issues, or they simply have too much stuff for a small apartment, broaching the topic of downsizing can be a scary thought. You might be wondering, how can I ask Mom and Dad to give up so many mementos they obviously cherish, and risk upsetting them? Indeed, the conversation – and the culling process itself – can be quite distressing.

One of our APFM readers, Lisa McDermott Byce, reported that a friend of hers found the process very difficult at first.

“She asked a group of us to help her get rid of things but she became increasingly upset as we worked together on it. Later she discovered something that helped her – she began to give away her stash to needy people and to the local thrift store. She came to understand that she hadn’t been using the things she’d been hoarding and that others could really use them,” says Lisa. “Now instead of feeling ashamed, she is blessing others.”


Enlisting trusted friends and family to help your loved one clear their clutter can be an enormous help. Having others around to share memories with can make the process less painful, for one thing. It can also make it less overwhelming and time-consuming – sometimes seniors are daunted by the size of the task, or feel physically incapable. Sometimes, though, the situation is so dire that professional help is warranted. Senior move managers help the aging adult downsize their possessions and are experts at helping with the transition into senior living.

“Sometimes when an adult child steps in to help mom or dad move, they bring emotional baggage. A lot of people are afraid they will lose the memory if they lose the item,” said Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, in the Reuters article. A trusted advisor on senior living issues can go a long way to helping seniors and their families figure out what to throw away and what to bring with them into assisted living. They can also help you talk to your loved one, addressing their fears and anxieties about assisted living, as well as the advantages of moving.

The result can be a hassle-free transition – and a much lighter load.

For more tips on downsizing click here.

Talking With Your Parents about Independent Living Part 2

Last week we posted Part 1 on Talking With your Parents about Independent Living. Below are more helpful hints and examples when it comes to having that conversation with your parents.

While each situation is unique, here are some common issues that can affect an older person’s ability to remain independent that you may want to discuss as your parents’ situation changes.

  • Where they live
    Ask: Is your home still appropriate for your needs?
    Are there any safety hazards in the house that could be removed?
    Have you thought about eventually living somewhere else?
  • Their everyday activities
    Ask: Do you need help with household chores?
    Does impaired vision interfere with your cooking?
    Can you hear a knock at the door or the telephone ring?
  • How they get around
    Ask: Do you feel comfortable driving?
    Would you like me to take you to your doctor appointments?
    Are there vans or discounted senior taxi services you could use for shopping or to get to religious services?
  • Their health
    Ask: Are your prescriptions current?
    Have you been to your doctor lately? What did he or she say about your health?
  • Their finances
    Ask: What are your current bills like and can you cover everything you need?
    Have you thought about how you might need money in the future to help pay for assistance with everyday activities you might not be able to do yourself?
    Would it be useful to consult with a financial planner?
  • How they pay for health care
    Ask: What kind of health insurance do you have? Has it paid your health care bills so far? Do you have any questions about Medicare or Medicaid?


Here’s how to deal with resistance:

Your parents may not want to talk about these issues. Some resistance is normal.

  • Respect your parents’ feelings when they make it clear they want to avoid a subject. Try again later using another approach.
  • Consider pushing the issue if your parents’ health or safety is at risk. While your parents have a right to be in charge of their own lives, some crisis situations — such as health care expenses depleting a bank account — may call for you to intervene. If so, act firmly but with compassion.
  • Involve other family members or friends. You may want to hold a family meeting where everyone can discuss concerns and develop a plan to help.
  • Find out about community resources to help your parents remain independent, such as transportation or home health care, and share the options with them.
  • Be prepared to let your parents make their own life choices, even if you don’t agree with them. You should set your own limits as to how involved you can be. If the living situation is unsafe, you may need to bring in a third party to intervene.

Source: Click Here

Talking With Your Parents about Independent Living Part 1

Your parents might have lived in their home for decades, so it’s understandable that they are not eager to move to a new place when they get older. Even if the house is getting difficult to maintain or doesn’t meet their needs, there are years of memories there. Change can be hard.

It’s good to talk with your parents while they are still healthy about what might be needed to remain living independently — often parents and loved ones find some peace of mind in discussing those issues when things are going well. If you wait until a crisis occurs, you will have to make decisions quickly and you might not know your loved one’s wishes.

Many adult children don’t know how to bring up the subject of independent living with their parents. Here are some tips for starting this difficult dialogue, keeping focused and dealing with resistance.

Beginning the conversation

Raise the issues indirectly:
Mention a friend’s mother who recently hired in-home help, or an article that you read about programs at a nearby senior center. Example: “Is that something that you might be interested in learning more about?”

Find small ways to bridge the issue:
Example: “I know you’re taking pills for arthritis, your heart and cholesterol. Would it help if you had one of those medication organizers you can buy in the drugstore?”

Share your own emotions:
Example:  “Dad, it’s hard for me to see you slowing down and I know you’ve always prided yourself on being independent. I imagine it’s difficult for you to ask for help, but what are some things that we can do?”

Set the right tone:
Once the topic has been brought up, listen to how your parents feel about their current needs, concerns, worries and hopes for the future. Don’t guess or make assumptions about your parents’ preferences. Ask open-ended questions that get them to express their perceptions.

Use communication that states your concern and avoids criticism
Example: “I’m feeling concerned that you may fall coming down the stairs. I could put a 100-watt bulb at the bottom of the stairs and install a handrail.” Don’t say: “Going upstairs in your condition is ridiculous. You’re sure to fall.”  

Make sure to check back next Tuesday for Part 2

3 Myths about Independent Living

Myth number 1: Living in a retirement community or senior apartment means losing independence.

You’ll have your own space without the hassles. You’ll also maintain your privacy and independence. You can furnish your apartment with your own furniture and personal items and decide how you wish to spend your days and with whom. The doors to your apartment lock and are controlled by you. You should feel at home and absolutely secure in your environment.

Myth number 2: Moving away from my family means no one will be around to help when needed.

Most independent living facilities have built-in safety and security measures along with 24-hour staff, designed to reduce the worry that often comes from living alone. Features are in place to respond quickly in the event that you need someone to help you.

Myth number 3:Moving to independent living means saying goodbye to hobbies such as gardening.

Life at an independent living facility usually means that seniors are more active than they were living alone. Many facilities have gardening programs for residents in addition to fitness programs, bingo, cards, and book clubs. Studies have shown that people who are active and engaged are healthier and happier. Extensive activity programs give all residents options and choices tailored to their specific needs, desires, and lifestyle. They can also reduce the isolation felt when living alone.

Source: A Place for Mom

Be sure to check out next’s week blog:

Talking With Your Parents About Independent Living


What is Independent Living for Seniors?

To put it simply, independent living for seniors is a housing arrangement for seniors who are 55 years or older. Housing options vary from apartment style, condos, or duplexes. Independent living is designed to take the stressors of house work, yard work, cooking, or transportation away from an individual so they can focus on companionship and other things. Some independent communities offer amenities, activities, and several types of services. At Hickory Glen, we offer:

  • 3 meals per day Monday-Saturday and Brunch on Sunday in the Oaks Dining Room
  • a Complimentary Bistro
  • Movies in our Cedar Cinema
  • Personal Trainers with no extra cost to you in our Juniper Gym
  • Diamond Willow Salon
  • Weekly Housekeeping
  • Laundry Services (extra charge)

When you’re an older adult, any housing change can seem like you’re losing your independence. However, as the name suggests, independent living is more about making your life easier than giving up your independence. Some independent living communities offer assistance with daily living. You can hire in-home help separately just as you could in your own home. At Hickory Glen, we have partnered with Home Instead Senior Care caregivers to help keep our seniors independent longer.

Ask yourself these four questions to determine if you or a loved one is ready for Independent Living:

  1. How easy is it to maintain your home?
  2. Is it difficult to stay connected to friends or family?
  3. How easy is it for me to get around?
  4. How is my health?

We find it helpful to plan ahead and do your homework. Maybe you or mom or dad isn’t quite ready for Independent Senior Living but by planning ahead and visiting communities can help avoid a stressful crunch time in the future.

For more helpful information click here.

Spark an Idea

Keeping your brain active is just as important as keeping your body active.  Our mind is like any other muscle; the more we use it the stronger it becomes. Our minds need to be stretched regularly to help keep us sharp. Through our lifetime the brain continues to grow and form from new cells. If we continue to stimulate our minds we can enhance our overall health. Just like weight training helps build muscle to your body, researchers now believe if you follow a brain-healthy lifestyle you will be able to increase your brain’s cognitive component. There are many ways to spark an idea to keep your mind sharp. For instance make a list and try to recall it. Items like grocery list,  to-do list or activities throughout the day. Memorize the list and challenge your brain by trying to remember the list an hour later. See how many items you can recall. Another way to test your mind is to get singing. Studies show that learning something new like music is ideal for the mind. Singing also helps with memorization. If singing isn’t your thing, don’t worry you can still work your mind out by picking up the newspaper. Not only does reading help with your cognitive thinking, the games found in newspapers like Sudoku really sharpens your mind and gets the wheels turning. You can also test your mind with the games found in our newsletter on page 7. Sparking ideas is just one way to keep your brain active and in overall good health. It’s vital as we age to workout our minds and bodies. “In a detailed study on the connection between lifestyle and dementia risk to date, researchers found that people who participate in multiple healthy behaviors significantly reduce their risk for dementia”. So whether it is playing mind puzzles like Sudoku or learning a new song, keep your brain active and full of ideas.




Our Blog

7 things you didn’t know about Memorial Day

As we honor Memorial Day year after year, some may forget the actual meaning of the celebration-besides a long weekend. TIME magazine has an excellent article filled with facts regarding Memorial Day. Click here for the full article.  Below are the seven facts you may not know about Memorial Day.


  1. It was originally called Decoration Day
  2. It wasn’t always celebrated on the last Monday of May
  3. Observe a National Moment of Remembrance-It’s the law
  4. James A. Garfield delivered a rather lengthy speech at the first Memorial Day ceremony
  5. Several states observe Confederate Memorial Day
  6. Waterloo, NY is considered the birthplace of Memorial Day
  7. It is one of the most traveled holidays.