This is a new series called: Tips to help your parents... As the title states, this series goal is to help children simplify their parents' lives as they reach retirement. Each Sunday, we will discuss different aspects of this process. So, let's begin.
First, I am using the word downsizing to describe a retired person (or anyone for that matter) who wants to get rid of their unused stuff and prefer to simplify their life. They could decide to move or just live in their well-organized home. Not every retiree needs to move from their home if their home works effectively for them.
The first post of this series will be about how to determine if downsizing is right for your parents.
The pros and cons of downsizing your parents.
There are lots of pros and cons on downsizing your parents. Here are the main ones.
Making their lives easier. We all want to make our parents feel more comfortable in their later years.
Saving money. When your parents go to social security, they may not want to work any longer. So, minimizing their monthly expenses is definitely a plus.
Selling their home makes it easier for them to relocate to a cheaper area. This gives them more flexibility to move to a warmer climate if they choose to do so.
It may create undue stress on your elderly parent. Not all parents like to move so keep that in mind when you approach the subject with your parent. Remember your parent may have lived in their home for decades and it may be overwhelming to think how they would get to the point where they can downsize.
The timing of your parents move can be a major pitfall. If it is a down market, it may not make sense to sell their home.
When moving your parents to a retirement community, they may not care for it. Then, you will have to revisit the topic of "where do you want to live?" again with them.
Here are some initial questions to ask your parents to determine if they would be receptive to downsize.
Bringing up the topic with your parents may be intimidating. But, with a little planning beforehand, it will help you stay focused on the topic and not on the emotional aspect of getting rid of their stuff. Start by writing a list of yes or no questions for your parents to answer.
Would they consider moving if you helped them through the process and made it easier for them? Yes or No
Where would they want to live: Would they like to visit some retirement communities? Yes, or No Would they want to live in a smaller home? Yes, or No Would they want to stay in their immediate neighborhood? Yes, or No Would they want to move near you? Yes, or No
Would they be willing to get rid of stuff in their home that will make their home safer for them to move around? Yes or No
Would they be willing to donate, sell, or give away items (furniture pieces, household knick knacks) that are not necessary? Yes or No
These are just a few questions but hopefully, it helps inspire you to get started on your yes or no list of questions.
After you had the conversation and your parents agree to be open to the option of downsizing and moving, gather all the bills and paperwork together to see if it really would work for your parents to downsize.
Is it cost-effective to downsize my parents?
Well, each parents' financial situations are different. So to figure out if it is cost-effective for them to move, sit down and really look at the numbers, check out this site: "Figure Out How Moving Changes Your Finances." Moving isn't cheap. And the undue stress may not make sense for your parents. So gather the information together and sit down with your parents and go through the details. If your parents aren't organized with their finances, this may take some doing. But be patient and do this process at their own pace.
If my parents stay at home, how can I minimize their risk?
If your parents don't want to move or it just isn't cost-effective, determine the extra cost that will help them live a happy and safe life in their existing home. Here are some questions to ask:
Do they need a caregiver on a daily or weekly basis?
Do they need a 24/7 monitor system and/or security system? Places like ADT offers a Medical Alter System.
Does the house need to be repaired? Does the bathroom need handicap railings put in? Does the shower need to be changed to a standing shower? Does the railing on the steps need to be reinforced?
Create a list of questions before you approach your parent to tell them about the modifications you want to make in their home. Always be respectful. It is after all, their home.
I hope this helps you start the conversation with your parent. Please come back next week for more tips to help you and your parent.
Have you dealt with this downsizing process with your parents? How did it work for you? Do you have any tips to share? Please leave a comment below.