Whether they bring it up or you feel it’s about time, at some point you may need to have a conversation with your parent(s) about selling the family home and moving to a more manageable space. This is never an easy conversation, because it can be an extremely emotional decision.
Often, the earlier this conversation comes up, the easier it is. Your parent(s) will have a chance to get used to the idea, other family members can assist by bringing it up casually, and you can visit a number of housing options (both with and without your parents) before making a decision. It becomes more difficult when the move is caused by a crisis or medical problem, as there is no time to ease into the change and your parent feels forced into it.
Recognize that, for your parent(s), this change is not simply about what is practical. The family home is not just a house, it’s a testament to the life they built there, the memories and the independence.
Have an honest, open conversation with your parent(s) about what their concerns are. If you are able to get to the root of their major objections, you can address them more easily.
For example, if their main concern is having enough money to live in a rental or assisted living facility, you can work together to draw up a budget. Depending on the sale price of the current family home, you may even be able to show them how much more they can do!
If their main concerns are emotional, not practical, you may need some support. Siblings and close family friends may need to reassure them that memories are tied to people, not places. Something as simple as a photo album of all the great memories, including pictures of the home and its mementoes, may be enough to assure them that even if the house is gone, those times are not forgotten.
Your parents’ health and lifestyle will affect the type of residence that makes the most sense. Visit our resource on downsizing for more information about the housing options available. Seek professional assistance
If you’re having difficulty with your parents or even other family members, and can’t get on the same page, you may want to seek professional counselling. A counsellor may be able to provide some perspective, and help alleviate any fear, guilt or resentment attached to this major decision.