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Tips For Helping Your Parents Downsize Their Home

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Everyone has a loved one who at some point thinks of downsizing -- like Max & Janet Smith in their North Hills home.

"I built it when I got out of the service, and we've lived here for 52 years, raised three kids and quite a few dogs, cats, snakes and all that go with it," Max Smith told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

It's a home full of memories and all kinds of things that are painful for older people -- and younger ones, too -- to give up.

"It's difficult. It's very difficult," added Janet Smith.

But the Smiths now in their 70s know it's time to downsize, something Vickie Dellaquila, author of "Don't Toss my Memories in the Trash," can help adults of all ages get through.

"You really have to let go of some things to fit," said Dellaquila.

She says downsizing means unloading -- and that can be tough, as Mrs. Smith noted.

"He has tools from his parents, from his dad and his grandfather, so I can understand him not wanting to get rid of them, but at some point, reality has to set in."

For others, it's paper we treasure.

"Some people like to keep everything," noted Dellaquila. "Every appliance manual they've ever had, every pay stub they've ever had, bank statements, everything. It's a matter of making decisions about how much am I going to keep."

Most older folks keep things that they should have given to their adult children long ago.

"Those things need to move out. Ship them off to your kids. Let them take their old prom dress, their college algebra books, all that stuff."

Adult children in their 30s, 40s, and 50s can help their older family members.

"Start talking to them about things --- and often," said Dellaquila.

Like the smiths' three children did.

"They've been very encouraging, come in and offered to do things and come in and help," noted Mr. Smith.

And with family support, it will happen.

"I'm a little apprehensive, but it'll work," said Mrs. Smith.

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