Remembering the family moments that have taken place at the family home is something that I look back on fondly, except for the time I tripped, fell, and hit my head on a wood corner bead, I still have the divot in my forehead! Remembering what the home looked like as you were growing up, the manicured garden, clean and kept interior, the immaculate garage... unfortunately there comes a time when the discussion must be had concerning downsizing.
An estimated 10% of the population in Fort Collins is over the age of 65, are the majority of these folks ready to age in place? As Northern Colorado continues to attract retirees, the impact on housing will continue to be noticed. A ranch style home is always in high demand, the lifestyle that Northern Colorado provides will continue this trend, as well as put pressure on builders to add less stairs to the real estate in Fort Collins and the surrounding area.
The type of downsizing that may allow for lower maintenance, a boost in energy due to a change in lifestyle and having the opportunity to meet new and interesting people. This conversation is very difficult and will require patience and tact, below are five common guidelines that may help you understand what your parents, grandparents or your favorite uncle, are going through, and to give you a situational perspective to move forward with the idea.
Communicate openly – Be empathetic but stay positive about the idea. Downsizing is about creating space for new adventures, or to explore new hobbies. You’ll find this a more successful approach than telling them the stairs have become too steep, or they’re too old to maintain the garden.
Ask questions – Listen to your parents’ concerns. You might find they’re reluctant because they’re unsure of the process, the financial impact, or they fear the upheaval that goes with downsizing. Often, folks are scared of losing their independence. Emphasize how this makes them more independent rather than less.
Be patient – This is not a one-conversation topic. It would be best if you gave your parents time to get used to the idea. That might be several months, even a year or so. If you’re lucky enough, you might sit down with your parents and make a five-year plan on how they should transition from the family home.
Explore alternatives – Work with your parents to see what alternative accommodation makes sense. Is it wise to move to a smaller house, an apartment, or would they feel happier going into a retirement complex now?
Seek advice – Work with your parents’ financial planner or accountant, as well as a trusted real estate agent, to look at the array of options available. Financial security will be fundamental, of course. They will feel more reassured if you secure the buy-in of professionals.
There are many questions that will lead to greater anxiety and misunderstanding, if there are questions that require a professional point of view, reach out. Give a call to those known and trusted friends, gaining further perspective can help improve your communication and bring calm to a situation that deserves empathy. Retiring is one thing, finding a home to age in place is another, knowing the local neighborhoods and the goals of a downsize transition will be key in achieving a positive solution, how can I help?