How to Talk to Your Parents About Downsizing

Updated: Apr 30

Are you beginning to consider downsizing for your parents? Having this conversation with them is not easy but we offer advice based on our years of experience working with families just like yours.

Not having timely access to medical support, not being able to move around the house, too much maintenance, being too far from you – as the child of an aging parent, there are several reasons that you may feel that their current home is no longer the right one for them.


You may be happy to care for them but you know that caring for aging parents is challenging, and the challenge grows as the elderly parent ages and their needs increase. Fortunately, you realize that there is a better solution in the form of downsizing and moving them to a more manageable residence.


Broaching the subject of downsizing, however may not always be easy.


Read more: Am I ready to downsize and move to retirement community?


It is important to remember that sometimes the hesitation to downsize is born out of something more than stubbornness and this may be hindering them from accessing what's essentially beneficial for them.


So how do you help your parents realize that leaving their forever home is an important step to continue living a full life in their golden years?


Here are four tips:


1. Communicate openly


The most important step you can take when discussing downsizing with loved ones is communicating with them. Let them know clearly why you think it is a good idea for them to move to a more conducive and manageable residence.


Maybe you want them to be closer to you or you are concerned about their safety being in a large home by themselves. Perhaps you believe they would enjoy their time more if they were nearer to the things they love to do – sailing, golfing, visiting their grandchildren or something else.


Sometimes the real reasons why downsizing is the best way forward can get buried in the back-and-forth, resulting in ambiguous assumptions being made on part of the parents. And to avoid this from happening, we cannot stress enough how important it is to continue to communicate openly.


The combination of your best intentions and an open dialogue with your elderly parents will help them understand why it makes good sense for them to downsize and move to a retirement community or a smaller home.


2. Ask Questions

If you sense continuing stubbornness, ask your parents if there is something specific that is bothering them. While it may come across as unwillingness, it is more than likely that your parents are worried about a certain aspect of downsizing.

Some of the more common reasons that they might not be willing to downsize yet include:

  • They don’t know what the process is and it sounds intimidating.

  • They don’t want to bother you but would like your help.

  • They don’t know what to do with their stuff that they won’t be able to take with them.

  • Thinking about sorting and getting rid of some of their belongings makes them emotional.

  • They don’t know how it will affect them financially.

  • They feel they will lose their independence.

A better understanding of what is affecting your parents’ confidence will help you to provide them with appropriate information.


3. Give it Time

Contrary to what you might think, families don’t just make downsizing decisions in a day. It is normal to have several discussions, even arguments and a variation of emotions.


Downsizing should never be a rushed decision, least of all for elderly parents. It is, after all, one the most important decisions they’ll ever make. Avoid panic, judgment and criticism. You are not parenting your parents – you are partnering with them to arrive at the most practical living solution for them.


While it may be clear to you that downsizing and moving to a retirement residence is the best option for your elderly parents, it may take them a little bit longer to realize this. It is in everybody’s interest that you remain positive, offer your help and answer their questions. Your patience and support are what will move the conversation forward.


When your parents are ready, they will let you know.


4. Talk to an Expert


Reaching out to a professional, who focuses on downsizing and moving seniors, may add clarity to the discussion for both you and your parents.


At Gordon’s, we offer consultation services with no obligation attached. We understand that every family’s situation is unique. When you talk to us we go over your specific situation and help identify the options that are available to you – some of which you may not have thought of yourself.


We are also available to speak to your parents if you’d like us to do so, to help advance your conversation with them. You can think of us and rely on us as you would a knowledgeable and experienced friend.


If at any point after speaking with us, you and your parents decide to move forward with downsizing, we will be happy to help you as much or as little as you’d like.


To learn more about how we can help, get in touch with us today.