The Stress of Downsizing

By Greg Reeves

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success.”
             ~ Henry Ford

Everyone knows what a struggle moving can be, but what happens when you’re trying to help an elderly parent downsize and move out of a home they’ve lived in for decades? Imagine all the things that have been kept or accumulated over that period of time. It’s no doubt that it would seem like a daunting task for anyone to take on.

Saying goodbye to possessions and keepsakes isn’t easy. For our loved ones, it could feel like separating oneself from memories and cherished items– like a child’s artwork or those stack of photo albums– especially if they are leaving a long-term home. Sometimes, it can become especially hard for someone to let go of personal possessions, and they can become overwhelmed or distressed over discarding them or giving them away. However, if someone is in the extremities of this behavior, if the area is hazardous, unsanitary, or have symptoms of self neglect and social withdrawal, they might have Diogenes Syndrome (elderly hoarding disorder). It’s more common than you may think. A 2008 John Hopkins study revealed that 6.2 percent of those over 55 show these symptoms.

There is a method that could possibly help with downsizing; the “four box” rule. Place four boxes in every room of your parents home.

  1. “Keep forever” Items of sentimental value, heirlooms, wedding china, photos, personal letters
  2. “Appraise and sell” Items of value, yet are unwanted such as jewelry, paintings, designer clothes or dinnerware, and silver/gold items
  3. “Keep with me” Items like furniture or artwork/decor
  4. “Garage sale/donate” Items that are of lesser value and are simply taking up space, such as vases, tchotchke’s, or books


If your parent tries to pass on something to you during this downsizing shift, don’t feel like you need to keep it out of guilt. It is okay to be honest but gentle conversations. Sometimes those conversations are as simple as, “My apartment/house is small. I love this antique wardrobe and it is beautiful, but I don’t have the space for it right now.”

At Transitioning America, we want to help your family’s move be as swift and stress-free as possible. Feel free to contact us for any questions or concerns.

“Greg Reeves and his employees coordinated my parents’ move from Georgia to New York. I wish his firm had been involved from the beginning of this complicated downsizing and transition, because the whole process would have been much smoother! I honestly don’t think they could have made this move without his help. Once Greg was on board, he and his employees took care of every detail. They were completely professional and pleasant to work with, and helped ease my parents’ minds about all of the many things that needed to be attended to. Greg was reliable and followed up on every detail, always keeping me in the loop, so that I stayed informed, too. He even maintained a sense of humor even when we encountered obstacles along the way.

More importantly, he genuinely cared about my parents and wanted to be sure they were taken care of properly, even attending to details and following up after they had moved. I highly recommend that anyone contemplating a downsizing or senior relocation invest in Greg’s services. They are worth every penny!” –Nell Freer


Transitioning am headshot

Greg Reeves, Athens native and standout quarterback, remains on several boards and has been very active throughout his career working on legislation protecting consumers while helping business grow. Greg has traveled the entire globe as a leader in the estate business specializing in jewelry and antiques and more specifically diamonds. Greg is a pioneer in buying and selling jewelry online.

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