Wednesday, 29 August 2018 06:03

Do you need to talk to your parents about downsizing?

Just over two years ago my sister and her family made the commitment to emigrate. A difficult decision for them, made harder as our parents lived in a granny flat on their property. The house would be sold along with the granny flat and our parents would need to move. And so, she and I had to talk to our parents about moving into a retirement home.

Although they had already downsized twice – moving from a farmhouse to a small cottage in a seaside village, and then to the granny flat in my sister’s garden – the idea of a retirement home came as a shock. As a family we felt that they needed the safety and security that a retirement home would provide. It took a little while to find the right place, which gave them time to get used to the idea, and prepare for the changes.

Packing up was not difficult as they had already downsized considerably. Moving day came and went, and they settled in very quickly. Two years on, they love it there and wish they had moved sooner!

Talking to your parents about downsizing and moving can be difficult. Believe me, I know. I hope these 5 tips help you and your parents:

  1. Explain why you think its time for them to move into something smaller and safer. Perhaps they have become frail or forgetful. Perhaps the home is too big for them to maintain properly. Perhaps finances dictate. Whatever the reasons, be honest but gentle and help them understand that you believe this is best.
  2. Empathize with them. Having to move out of their home where they have been happy and comfortable will be emotionally taxing and difficult to come to terms with. Give them time to get used to the idea, and process the loss.
  3. Give you parents some control. Remember this is yet another reminder of their frailties and lack of control. Help them organize the move, but give them plenty of time. Rushing your parents will only make the process more difficult for them.
  4. Show your parents the benefits of moving into a retirement home/village. They will be able to socialise with people their own age. They will be safe. There will be assistance where needed. Less housework, less maintenance. The benefits are endless.
  5. Create a memory book. We created and printed a memory book of all their favourite things - the collections they couldn’t keep, the furniture that had to go, the huge photo collages on the walls, pictures of the cottage and garden and their favourite tree. Creating a memory book has helped preserve the memories of those years, especially now that my Dad has started losing his memory. And the best part is that my sister and I made it with my parents. That in itself is a wonderful memory for all of us.

Creating a memory book is a very creative way for your parents to keep everything they are giving away close their heart. The best part is – you made it together!

Probably the most important bit of advice I can offer is to be patient, and give them all the time they need!

Have you had to talk to your parents about downsizing? Do you have any tips?

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