Downsizing is an inevitable part of life. Eventually, a home can feel too large to keep up with, or perhaps it’s time to transition into a senior community. Whatever the reason, most people will downsize their home at least once in their life. But what do you do when you think it’s time for your parents or loved ones to downsize? No one wants to be seen as pushy or nosey, but if you genuinely believe it would be for the best, discussing options is a great place to start.
Before you talk to your parents about downsizing, it is beneficial to be able to recognize the type of relocation they may need. Several telltale signs can indicate someone is struggling with their current space. One of the first things you should consider is if your parents need to downsize or if they need to move into assisted living. If you notice multiple warning signs, it might be time to sit down and have an honest conversation with your parents.
The signs that someone may need to downsize are:
Do your parents mention the desire to lower monthly housing costs?
Do your parents talk about relocating?
Are there signs that upkeep is becoming difficult? (Untended yards, dirty rooms, etc.)
Are your parents starting to think of plans for their future?
Are your parents looking for more independence and fun?
Any of the above signs can indicate that now is the time to start considering downsizing. Once someone downsizes, they will have fewer monthly expenses, less to clean, and less to worry about! This can provide more freedom for your parents to explore new things and experiences.
The signs that someone may need to downsize into Assisted Living:
Are your parents eating balanced meals regularly?
Are your parents still able to get around safely? (Keep an eye out for bruises or minor injuries that may indicate recent falls/accidents)
Are they wearing fresh, clean clothes each time your visit? Are they laundering towels and linens regularly?
Are they able to manage their medications appropriately? (Look for stockpiled or expired medications)
Do they have difficulty moving around their home? (Are there blocked walkways or stairs that are causing issues?)
If you notice that your parents are struggling to stay safe and healthy in their home, then it is time to consider discussing assisted living. Keeping an eye out for warning signs can give you time to talk about moving before they have an accident.
Once you decide that your parents should downsize, what do you do? The best way to broach the subject is to have an open and honest conversation with your parents. Explain your feelings and concerns but let them know that the decision is theirs.
Giving your parents the CHAT:
Communicate openly. Explain your concerns and why you believe that downsizing would be beneficial. If you are worried about their safety or if you want them to be closer to you, be direct and say so.
Have an open mind. Your parents may have different opinions and feelings towards the situation. Respect their position and listen when they talk.
Ask questions. Ask how your parents are feeling about the conversation and about downsizing. If they have concerns, address them.
Talk to an expert. Reach out to your local Senior Move Manager and ask questions about the downsizing process. If your parents have any questions, pass them along.
The hardest part of the process is having an open and honest conversation. Something to keep in mind is that this process takes time! There will be strong feelings and deep emotions; you will most likely need several sessions of talking with your parents before any decision is made. Don't be tempted to rush your parents into a choice they are not 100% on board with. But if you start the process and take the time to have meaningful conversations, both your parents and yourself will feel more confident about a transition to a new space.
More tips about helping your parents decide to downsize and transition can be found in our book, Chronological Order: The Fine Print for a Large Life.