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When is it Time to Downsize?

Vickie Dellaquila - October 16, 2017 12:51 PM

How do you know when it’s the right time to downsize? Is it still safe to stay in the old family home? Here are some things for your loved one to think about:

House Location and Construction

•    Does the house have many narrow staircases? Do you have to use them to reach the bedroom, bathroom, or washing machine?
•    Is the kitchen easy to get around in? Does reaching the sink, stove, or cupboards pose safety hazards?
•    Are you able to keep up with home maintenance, or are things falling into disrepair?
•    Is the house far from the supermarket and bank? Are sidewalks in good repair or are they crumbling and apt to cause a fall?
•    Has the neighborhood changed? Is it safe to sit on the porch at night?

Physical Limitations

•    Can you keep up with the housecleaning? Not being able to bend down to clean up spills can create a slipping hazard.
•    Is your spouse’s memory still good? Would he ever leave a pot boiling on the stove or turn on a burner and walk away? Could she leave water running in the tub until it overflows?
•    Can you and your spouse handle your basic hygiene needs? Can you maneuver in and out of the tub or shower? Can you keep up with laundry, or do you need to send it out?
•    Are you susceptible to home invasions and scam artists who prey on seniors by phone and in-person?
•    Can you still manage to pay your bills?
•    Are you isolated in your home? Is the letter carrier the only person you see all week?
•    Can you continue to make healthy, appetizing, and nutritious meals? Or is food spoiling in the refrigerator?
•    Do you take your pills on time and practice other needed medical care, like diabetes testing?
•    Has driving become difficult due to your age?

Living alone can be risky for anyone, particularly for a senior. If the house is cleaned infrequently, dust and mold can accumulate and cause breathing difficulties. Fragile seniors are more likely to trip and fall over items piled on steps and as they negotiate walkways narrowed by boxes, piles of old clothes, and newspapers. When they are alone and isolated, they may be susceptible to depression and anxiety, not to mention con artists and thieves.  Downsizing to a retirement community or assisted living can bring many benefits including opportunities for socialization, maintenance free living, and easier access to healthcare.

Vickie Dellaquila is Western Pennsylvania’s first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization and owner of Organization Rules® Inc. Organization Rules provides compassionate organizing services for every stage of your life®. She is the author of Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move. Please visit

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