Seniors and Downsizing: A message for the Children


If you are the adult child of a parent in their 80’s who still resides in the family home, you may be thinking that mom or dad or both of them need a safer environment.  Perhaps they can’t manage the stairs or perhaps they can’t keep up with the housework and the maintenance required.  They may live on a hill where there are several steps just to get in the door.  There are two choices to assist them: move or make the house safer for them.  Today we will talk about moving and some ways that you can help them start to think about their options.

  1. Talk early.  Approach the downsizing conversation by asking questions of your parent during everyday conversations.  Questions like, Do you think you would enjoy living in a smaller home that’s easier to maintain?  Have you thought about moving into a single-story home in the future?  Do you want help going through your garage to donate some items that you don’t need anymore?  This will help get the conversations started in a non-threatening way.
  2. Treat your parents like adults. There’s nothing parents dislike more than to be treated like children.  Show them respect and have adult conversations, even if you think you know what’s best for them.  If they are not cognitively impaired, have patience and discuss the options calmly
  3. Show them alternatives.  It’s always a good idea to take them to go see a condo or an independent living environment.  Maybe at first they are reluctant, but fear of the unknown is rational.  Take them to visit a few different environments and see how the conversations shift.
  4. If they do agree to move, be prepared for a slow process.  First, getting them to agree to move can take time, finding the right next place for them also takes time and ultimately, preparing the home to sell can also be a lengthy process. The goal is to stay calm and not stress them out.
  5.  Remember that it’s ultimately up to them to pull the trigger on downsizing. They have the right to continue living in their home, even if it means they’ll need support from a caregiver to do so.
  6. Hire a real estate agent with experience helping seniors.  You can  search for real estate agents with the title Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES). SRES-certified agents are specially trained in real estate opportunities available to homeowners in the 50+ age demographic. They’ll be connected to all the resources your parents need to help them prepare and sell their home, help them consider all their options for their next place, help them pack and move and unpack and get settled in their next home.
  7. Celebrate your parents’ downsize together.  Show them that you will still visit them as much as you have before, praise them for getting it all done as it was a huge feat, and let them know how much better you feel that they will now be in a safer, more secure environment.

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