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The Conversation: Supporting Aging Parents in Rightsizing

Your parents are active empty nesters who are relishing the freedom of retirement and excited to begin a new chapter. But they have yet to break their ties with the family home. It’s a house that echoes with your childhood memories, but has clearly outlived its purpose.Well, at least it is clear to you. 

In your opinion your parents would be happier jettisoning what has become a huge physical and financial burden to join a community of fun, enthusiastic, like minded peers. You want to let them know you support them moving out, moving on, and moving into a senior living apartment complex, designed to enhance this time of life. But despite the best of intentions, talking to your aging parents about transitioning into senior living apartments can be tricky.

As you contemplate opening a dialogue with your parents on this important subject, your first step is to check any patronizing or condescending attitudes at the door. In fact, you’d do well to consult the wisdom of the late, great, Aretha and approach your parents with R E S P E C T.

Rally the Troops

If you have siblings nearby, gather them together to present a united front. This is not to say your parents should be blindsided or bullied. Think of it more as a gentle family nudge. Share a meal and ease into the conversation over dessert.  Bring plenty of wine.  

Start By Listening

You have watched the home you grew up in begin to overwhelm your parents - and their wallet. You really want to help them maximize retirement with the goal of enjoying life in a stress and maintenance free environment, surrounded by unlimited social opportunities. The urge to share those feelings – using language like “should” and “must" - will be strong. But in the words of Larry David, you might want to curb your enthusiasm. Sometimes the best way to show love is to stop talking and listen. Whether you are dealing with one parent or two, hear them out. They may have a perspective on their goals and time-line you have not considered. They may have plans that surprise you, like relocating to an Overture senior apartment in a warmer climate. You won’t know any of that until you zip it and let them share.

Do Your Homework

It is important to come to this meeting prepared. If this is your first-time discussing rightsizing, it would behoove you to research senior living apartment communities and be ready to point out great locations and the many perks of communal living. Bring brochures or get online to show off fabulous facilities, like Overture’s resort worthy amenities and designated activity spaces. Your parents may or may not have a specific city or community in mind. Your informed input can be really helpful in honing in on the right destination. 

Address the Elephant in the Room

It may be your parents really want to rightsize into a community that focuses on the joys of their particular stage of life. But the very thought of selling the family home is paralyzing them. Breaking the emotional connection to the place they raised you and your siblings can be extremely difficult. And let’s not minimize the physical undertaking of wading through the chaos of decades to decide what to keep and what to toss.  Assure your parents you will be there to help with the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively. But be prepared for your own emotional journey as you have to decide whether to jettison your fourth-grade art project or stow it in your own basement for your kids to deal with later.

Join the Tour

When your parents are on board, join them for a tour of the Overture community of their choice. Once they’ve signed on the dotted line, you’ll be amazed how quickly they settle in and embrace the best of active adult living. Don’t take it personally if it takes them a while to return a phone call.

Those happy hour cocktails won’t drink themselves.