A Difficult Dilemma: Decluttering and Downsizing With Parkinson’s

Lori DePorter avatar

by Lori DePorter |

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Decluttering and downsizing are often associated with simplifying, in line with the concept “less is more.” Both may be necessary as we continue our journey with Parkinson’s disease. But there’s a third D-word missing: difficult.

My oldest son said, “Downsize now because you want to do it together. Don’t wait until you have to do it.”

So our family decided it was time to make a change. As parents, we didn’t want to put the burden of moving us on our boys. Our decision to downsize now will benefit them later.

We needed a home where getting older and living with Parkinson’s would be safer and easier. However, our timetable was accelerated when life threw us a curveball. This time, we didn’t miss. An unplanned job opportunity became the push we needed to head in the right direction.

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Time to declutter

It’s trendy now to minimize your belongings and keep only what you need. There are many decluttering tips and checklists out there to follow. However, “difficult” makes its debut when you try to define “need.” The bedtime stories we read to our children are no longer needed, but they are not irrelevant. Our high school yearbooks aren’t necessary, but they are important to us. Where is the line between clutter and comfort?

My husband and I started with some guidelines: one box for our memorabilia and one box for our boys’ memorabilia. This lasted almost an entire day. We now have a new guideline: If it speaks to our heart, it’s coming with us. We can get a bigger box.

Downsizing and planning with purpose

There are many benefits to downsizing, including:

  • Less cleaning, which allows more time to do things.
  • Fewer home maintenance expenses.
  • A safer living space designed to fit your needs.
  • Peace of mind for your friends and family.

The most important benefit is safety. Following are several safety concerns to consider.

  • Avoid a home with stairs, if possible. If that is not an option, install carpet and handrails on both sides of the staircase.
  • Ensure your shower is safe and accessible by installing tools such as grab bars.
  • Eliminate tripping hazards, especially area rugs and uneven floor transitions.
  • Organize closets and cupboards to make frequently used items easily accessible.

The actual moving process also is difficult and draining. Physically, it will be a struggle, but we will take our time. The emotional aspect is a different story. We are leaving the only home our family has ever known. Thirty years of memories were made within these walls, on the porch, and in the yard. Our attachment is magnetic.

Honestly, I am struggling, but I find comfort in a fellow columnist’s wise words. Referring to his home as a sanctuary, Dr. C wrote, “The beauty of this physical sanctuary can be recreated, and we carry the rest with us.”

For us, we will start a new chapter by creating a new home. We will take the most important stuff with us: the memories we have in our hearts. No boxes required.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Mark P avatar

Mark P

Even before my PD diagnosis in 2017 I was never a hoarder but I am sentimental when it comes to decluttering. For example I recently came a cross my old bright yellow Walkman tape cassette player which evoked many memories. I don't know if it still worked as I've no cassettes to try in it! Never the less I was reluctant to part with it. My solution to this any many similar examples is to photograph it and save the image on my hard drive (a backed up life time of memories). OK, its not the same as having the physical item in my hand but the image triggers the same memories for this much loved piece of kit from 30 years ago and helps me part with it into the recycling bin!

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Thank you for sharing, I laughed at the Walkman story. I found mine as well.

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Great ideas! It seems like walk men were popular in our day and we all kept them!

Reuben avatar


That's a good idea for a starter. And I think that in time it would be easier to declutter those computer images than it was to tackle the original item.

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Great insight. However, my hard drive is a declutter project as well. Be sure to share your ideas on our forums!

Thank you for sharing.



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