“Senior Downsizing Specialist” Defined: How They Help Ease the Burden of Transition

Downsizing Specialists help ease the burden of transitions for seniors and their families

Over the years, I’ve been asked this question many, many times.

“What is a Senior Downsizing Specialist and what is it that makes their service so unique when helping seniors who are downsizing?”

It’s understandable that people are confused about this profession given that the industry itself is so new.  After all, it’s only been formally recognized as a business organization in the United States since 2002.

When the Baby Boomer’s (those born between 1946 and 1965) began to hit retirement age at 65 in 2011, significant shifts started happening in the perceptions around aging and how people wanted to live out their later years. 

Baby Boomers are changing how they live out their retirement years compared to previous generations

We’d best take notice, because this population segment is getting bigger by the year, with the U.S. Census Bureau predicting the senior population is expected to double from 43.1 million in 2011 to over 80 million by 2050.


That’s a LOT of people who need this service right now and are going to continue to need supportive services, like home organization and downsizing assistance, in the coming months and years.

One of the ways the senior population has begun to shift is that families aren’t always able to step up and help their aging parents during transition in person, like they have been expected to in the past.

Why? Well, there are many factors, but here are two of them.

Kids May Live Thousands of Miles From Their Parents Now

First, it’s because adult children have had to migrate to other areas in the country to find better employment, less expensive housing or other factors that significantly affect their quality of life.

The Great Recession of 2008 was one of the biggest factors contributing to this increased migration in the United States. 

Second, Baby Boomer’s tend to have children later in life which means they often still have school-aged children at home to raise when their parents are simultaneously needing their help with transition. It makes it especially difficult if, like many couples, they are both working full-time jobs to support their families.

This means less flexibility in being able to take time off work or school, travel out of area or have enough vacation time to use when their parents need their help with a downsizing move.

Trying to squeeze a downsize process into one long weekend is ineffective and a mistake

Some attempt to squeeze the entire process of a downsizing transition into a long weekend. This is not only ineffective, it can have serious consequences to the health and well-being of their parent.

The reality is, the process takes weeks, preferably even months, of planning, purging and organizing to determine what can go to the new home, what needs to be gotten rid of and how unwanted items are disposed of, and that’s before the actual move day.  

Don’t forget the packing, move day coordination and unpacking phases that need to be carefully planned, scheduled and expedited as well.

The good news?  This is where a Downsizing Specialist (or DS) shines. 

I like to think of a DS as a ‘rent-a-daughter or son’ that can confidently step in to provide leadership to their clients for what can feel like a pretty chaotic and overwhelming challenge.

A Downsizing Specialist provides the planning, tools and resources their clients need to facilitate the entire downsizing process

A DS provides the planning, tools and resources their clients need to facilitate the pre-move purge process, mover coordination, space planning needs and actual move process.

Not everyone needs all of the services a DS offers, however. So, part of a DS’s key responsibilities is to evaluate their clients needs, keeping in mind the clients budget and timeline, then create a personalized transition plan for them to follow, then guide them through the process to completion.

Some clients might feel they can purge and organize on their own, but want help with the mover coordination, packing, move day planning and/or unpacking.

Downsizing Specialists can help lessen the stress of a downsizing move process

Ultimately, a DS focuses on the ways he or she can lessen the stress of a downsizing move and help the client feel more in control and confident about the changes they are facing.

In a lot of ways, a DS plays the role of a mediator, a neutral party if you will, that sees the Big Picture and finds common ground when family dynamics or spousal conflicts arise.

Often, the adult children need more hand holding than the senior does because they are having difficulty communicating with their parents over key decisions. 

A downsizing move is unlike any other in that hard decisions need to be made about a lot of treasured items that hold intense emotional meaning.

Moving into smaller quarters certainly has its benefits long term, but it also means, in the short term, that a person will have to say goodbye to things that they have spent a lifetime accruing, each with their own unique meaning.

It’s important to understand the emotional and psychological aspects behind downsizing

Understanding the emotional and psychological aspects behind downsizing is what sets a Downsizing Specialist apart from a mover or even a family member that’s helping their parents through the process.

It’s can be a shock to a senior’s children to see the changes in their parents as they traverse a major late-life transition. It’s not uncommon for a senior to experience periods of unusually high levels of confusion, sadness or depression during this type of move.

A DS can step in with compassion, understanding and perspective to support their client and family, helping them navigate the speedbumps of the experience more effectively.

There’s no doubt that this unique service specialization will continue to be needed for many years to come.

If you’d like more information on Senior Downsizing as an industry, the ways DS’s can help seniors in their communities, including more detail on the type of services they offer, check out the Introduction to Senior Downsizing course ($49) at www.thedownsizinginstitute.com/courses page.