We are in the midst of the holiday season. Many families are spending time together and may be connecting after several weeks or months of being apart. During this time, some adult children may decide that perhaps their parent or parents may benefit from moving to a smaller home or senior living community for health and/or safety reasons.
This can be a very difficult topic to broach. No one likes being told what to do and it’s especially hard for a parent to feel like their child (or children) are taking control of decisions that greatly impact their life. Here are some thoughts on how to make the process smoother for all involved.
1. Show Empathy
Moving is stressful at any age, but as we get older it becomes even more stressful. A move later in life is often not made by choice but is predicated by another stressful event such as the death of a spouse or a serious change in health. When discussing or encouraging a loved one to move, take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. How long have they lived in their home? Think of all the milestone events that happened while they lived here – births, marriages, holidays, etc. They are leaving a home – not just a house. Their memories are real and need to be honored.
2. Take Time to Listen
One of the advantages of being an objective third-party when we help clients downsize or move is that we bring an impartial point of view to the conversation. It’s important to take the time to listen to what your loved one is saying they want, and not focus solely on what you think they need. Listen and acknowledge their feelings or desires and discuss ways that you can compromise to meet at least some of their wishes. Feeling a loss of control can make people react in negative ways – becoming stubborn or lashing out. What they want may be completely unrealistic but acknowledging an understanding of their point of view can go a long way towards lowering the stress level.
3. Start the Process Early
The most stressful situations occur when someone is forced to move quickly, usually as a result of being discharged from the hospital or rehab. Good decisions are rarely made when under that type of pressure. So, start the conversation early. Begin sorting and downsizing now, a little at a time. Investigate senior living options before a move is required, so you can make an informed decision if/when the need arises.
Senior & Specialty Move Managers, like Peace of Mind Transitions, are professionals who bring their expertise and experience to make the transition process less stressful for the entire family. If you are going through this process with a family member and would find this expertise beneficial, we are happy to help.