Do you have parents of retirement age who are living in a large house with more rooms and possessions than they need?
Maybe that’s because you have left the nest. But what do they do now? It’s a lot of space to maintain when you are ageing.
Downsizing is the answer, of course, but while this comes with many benefits, many older people worry about moving to a smaller home.
So it’s time to help your parent or parents with this big decision. The tables have turned - they now need you to guide them through the changes in life.
1 Start the conversation
Your parents may well realise that their home is too large for them to handle these days, but they might be worried about your reaction if they were to move.
This is perhaps the place you grew up - there’s still a spare room for you, still some of your old toys under the bed.
But this isn’t about you. This is about what’s best for your parents, so let them know it’s ok by you if they were ever going to consider moving to a more manageable home.
They may even be in denial of the facts, or just need a gentle push in that direction, so go carefully with them, ease them into thinking about downsizing.
But do start the conversation. You only have their happiness in mind, after all.
2 Put their minds at ease
You are the one who has grown up in an increasingly digital age. You know there is a wealth of information online (just like this article) which can help in the process.
You can help them learn about the location they might want to move to. Find accessible walks and local shops and GPs, a list of any groups or clubs in the area which they might want to join, depending on their hobbies and interests.
This is a chance to retire to the place they always said they wanted to live, perhaps the area they always used to take you on holiday when you were young.
You also probably know far more than they do about smart homes - about technology in new-builds that will make life easier for them.
Use your knowledge to ease their worries and help convince them that a new home could be the start of a wonderful new chapter in their lives.
3 Offer to help with sorting, selling and donating possessions
Quite likely the major obstacle to your parents downsizing their home is them being overwhelmed by the whole process.
But it doesn’t need to be difficult, and you can help.
They may need to get rid of some possessions before moving, and this can be difficult if things are being hoarded for sentimental reasons.
You can help assure them that it’s fine to pass on to another child that giant teddy bear in your old bedroom. In that case, of course, it would be a great help if you just took all your own stuff away for starters.
After that, you need to help them focus and be methodical and even ruthless.
You should be able to divide possessions into piles of Keeping, Selling, Donating and Trashing.
Items can be sold online and you may have to help them do this. You probably know your way around the likes of eBay better than they do.
Charities and auction houses are other good options for finding new homes for your possessions.
This process could even provide a nice sum of money to carry into the next phase of their lives, on top of any equity they will release in selling the larger home.
4 Offer to help with packing and moving
This is another major effort than can put people off making the move that makes sense.
Help your parents make a list of things to do, taking them through every step of the packing. Moving and unpacking process.
You will probably be hiring a moving company or renting a van or truck to take things yourself.
Do as many of these jobs for your parents as you can to ease the stress. Yes, I know you’ve got a busy life, too, but they did look after you for many years, time to return the favour!
5 Help to design the layout of their new home
Your parent or parents will want to move into their new home and very soon feel happy and settled.
Much of this contentment can be influenced by home design. Let me give you some examples.
The benefits of natural light in a home are well documented, especially in later years. Read here for more information.
So place seating where the natural light is coming through, or at least face in that direction. It will make your parents happier and healthier!
You’ll have looked at the storage options before moving, and perhaps chosen a home where there are built-in wardrobes and cupboards to store things while reducing clutter.
Here at Scalesceugh Villas, for example, we offer customised wardrobes and kitchens, we can provide easy-reach corner cupboards, pull-out larder cupboards, walk-in cupboards... options are certainly there to help.
Downsizing should be seen as an opportunity to make a fresh start, displaying the furniture and possessions that actually put a smile on your parents’ faces, choosing things that mean the most to them, to enjoy now and into the next chapter.
And YOU can help them achieve all these things!