Downsizing and Real Estate

12/1/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

As our loved ones age, their home may no longer be the most suitable for their circumstances. Although it may be hard to leave a home that holds years of memories, it could actually come as a relief to move to a space that best fits their lifestyle, budget, and physical restrictions.

1. Home Maintenance

Indoor Maintenance

As home maintenance needs mount – especially with an aging home – it may be time to downsize. Home ownership, which can frankly be difficult at any stage in life, requires a significant amount of time, energy, and resources. Basic maintenance costs can be a financial drain; not to mention major issues such as replacing an appliance or a major component such as HVAC, water heater, or a roof.

Exterior Maintenance

You may begin to notice that grass is tall or bushes are overgrown, as external maintenance becomes more physically taxing. Even the most basic tasks can become dangerous in extreme heat or cold for your aging parents, or when raining, sleeting, or snowing. Hiring someone to complete seasonal tasks (such as cleaning leaves from gutters or shoveling snow) is an option, but seniors who could recently complete such tasks before may be tempted to try again, and possibly injure themselves.

2. Unused Outdoor and Indoor Space

Indoor Space

If there are multiple unused bedrooms, bathrooms, or living spaces, it may be time to discuss with your parents downsizing options. Although it may be nice to have an extra bedroom for visitors, multiple guest bedrooms are frequently unutilized. If a bonus room, basement, or formal living or dining room is not being used, it may no longer make sense to clean it and pay the utility expenses and maintenance costs.

Outdoor Space

A smaller space may be ideal for your aging loved one if their current outdoor spaces (such as a large yard, a pool, garden space etc.) are no longer being used.

3. Keeping It Clean

Cleaning a large house is time-consuming and difficult. When the space is seldom used, it may no longer make sense to do so. Having a smaller space to clean will allow your loved one to spend more time socializing or doing things that they enjoy.

4. Financial Concerns

Living Expenses

Has your aging loved one expressed concerns about expenses or finances? It may be time to downsize. Cleaning, maintaining, running home utilities, and paying taxes and insurance can become expensive. Seniors are often on a fixed income, and may be better served with a space that allows them to maintain their financial independence.

Don’t know your loved one’s exact financial situation? It may still be worth having a conversation about whether or not they can comfortably afford their space, and suggest other enjoyable ways to spend money that is currently paying for unused space. 

Savings and Retirement

If savings are being utilized to pay home expenses each month, it may also be time to downsize. Savings should be reserved for retirement, and not for lifestyle maintenance. Being anxious about affording living expenses during retirement years can also be a source of anxiety for your loved one, which can take a toll on their health and well-being. It may also be worth noting that real estate prices may help to decide if the time is right to downsize.

If your loved one’s home is in a favorable market and the equity from the sale of the home would support a more appropriate living situation, it may be time for a change. 

5. Physical or Mobility Issues

Parents downsizing because of the stairs

Has your aging parent mentioned that the stairs in their home are becoming more difficult to manage (or have you observed this yourself)? It may be time to bring up the idea of your parents downsizing; to help them move into a space with one-story or first-floor living space. Don’t worry: it is still possible for them to maintain their independence, while still living safely.

6. Geographical Changes

If your loved one lives far away, and has expressed a sense of isolation or a desire to be closer for holiday events, grandchildren’s sporting events, or just Sunday dinners, it may be less about parents downsizing and more about parents moving; somewhere closer and into a home that is a better fit. Even if your loved one does not move to the same town, having a smaller space to maintain may give them more flexibility to travel, and more financial freedom to enjoy those trips.

7. Peace of Mind

If your parent simply craves simplicity, an easier routine, and peace of mind, it may be time for a move; whether to a smaller home, a maintenance-free condominium, or a senior living community. It may also give you peace of mind to know that your aging parent is living a simpler, safer, more appropriate lifestyle. 

If any (or all!) of these issues resonate with your aging parents, look into hiring a downsizing specialist. A professional can assist with the entire process and make it much less overwhelming of an endeavor!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff