Some of us are at an age when we need to consider the “talk” with our parents about downsizing. As they get older, most parents will need to lean more on their adult children. It does not come as a surprise that most parents do not entertain the idea of downsizing and are determined to care for themselves, as they have always done. There are numerous benefits for seniors who downsize, but how can we convince our parents to make such a monumental change?
Most people do not even realize that elder mediation is a thing. I have found it to be extremely effective in helping families with aging parents make important decisions at this stage of their life. Mediation works to assist families to openly discuss difficult topics and helps families to settle on what the best interests are for their aging parents. Here are some of the excellent starting points when broaching the topic of downsizing. Then leave the rest to mediation.
This is arguably the best way to start the discussion. Nobody likes to do household chores; your parents included. Letting your parents know that downsizing comes with less cleaning, less lifting, less moving items around and tidying up.
Downsizing makes it easier to keep a home clean in a few ways. Your parents will have found themselves in situation where they are now empty nesters. The children have grown up and moved out, and are taking care of themselves and their own families.
Evidently, all the cleaning and maintaining is left up to your parents. The kids are not around to help with daily chores. Not to mention, the house is most likely too big to clean on their own. What about the outdoors? The outdoor chores such as cutting the lawn, maintaining a garden, snow shovelling, etc. will become increasingly difficult for your parents to upkeep.
A smaller home would be much easier to maintain and keep clean, both inside and out.
Most people work up until retirement or even into their retirement years; some full time and some part time. A lot of people have not saved up enough during their working years to live comfortably. Most government pensions are not enough to live off during retirement so many older adults are looking for more creative ways to save money.
According to Credit on Key, “the maximum monthly amount for someone who waits until full retirement age to receive benefits is $2,663. 29% of seniors 65 and up still owe money on their home mortgage. Another 27% are saddled with outstanding credit card bills. 3% of seniors 65 or older still have student loans.”
It may be because some may have taken a second mortgage on their home to ease financial strain while working or putting their kids through school. There are several reasons why this may have happened. The result is that loan payments are still being paid well into retirement.
To help your parents understand why they need to downsize to save money, show them the numbers. Put it into writing and show them how much money they will save by downsizing. Help them realize their retirement dreams with what they can save.
As parents age, health issues may arise. There may be mobility issues. There be health concerns such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Falling down becomes an issue with aging adults, which can often result in broken bones. Maybe an option would be to live in a home with minimal stairs.
Speak to your parents compassionately and empathy. Let them know that there are housing accommodations that can help them with these issues. Depending on the severity of the health concern, independent living may or may not be a viable option. This is a hard topic to bring up. Many aging parents do not want to admit to their illnesses or restrictions. Always let them know this would be in their best interest.
Without having enormous payments to make an overly large home, show your parents how they lead a more adventurous life. Tell them to “think about it”. Explain how all the time they save on cleaning and maintaining a large home can be used to enjoy their golden years. With all the money they saved, let them know they can now go on those vacations they always dreamed of. Show them how they can live out their older dreams doing what they worked so hard for.
And it is a big but, it will not be easy to convince them to give up their old ways for a new and happier life. They are comfortable. Most older adults do not appreciate change, and certainly do not welcome it. They are set in the life and their routine. They are happy with this.
Mediation comes in with all parties helping to prepare an action plan for their aging parents, inclusive with all the things their parents have on their bucket lists. Mediation helps everyone come together to discuss all the issues concerning aging parents, not only downsizing, but also other issues such as healthcare and their overall wellbeing. Downsizing may not only mean moving into a smaller home or condo, but it may also mean assisted living or living in a long-term health facility, in accordance with your parents’ needs. Mediation will address these issues and help everyone decide the best course of action for your parents.
Some aging adults fear giving up their independence. Mediation will help you work through these issues as well. For instance, some housing complexes offer a combination of assisted living and independent living. Most residences include several amenities your parents will enjoy such as card games, board games, social events and more.
Mediation will include your aging parents, and most likely all the adult children. Financial issues may also be discussed, including a will and powers of attorneys. It is important during mediation that your parents have time to speak and voice their wishes.
Mediation also provides a support system for the whole family that is ongoing.
When the time is right, sit down with your parents and speak freely knowing there are services like mediation that can assist with the transition into downsizing.