Selling your home when you’re seventy or older can be a big, emotional decision, especially if you’ve lived there for decades. It means leaving things behind. Friends. Neighbours. Memories.

Is it any wonder then that your parents may be resisting your suggestion to downsize? What you’re asking them to do is hard. Emotionally. And if it’s your childhood home, it may be hard for you, too.

Putting off the decision to sell is natural

Even if your parents understand the benefits of downsizing, they may be putting off a decision to move. “I’m not ready yet,” they might tell you. “I’m still healthy. Maybe one day.”

It’s a natural human reaction. And there’s something to be said for living in the moment. But if they simply wait for that day to come, and they suddenly and unexpectedly reach a point when staying put simply isn’t possible anymore, they may no longer have the physical and emotional reserves to deal with a big move.

If they’re forced to move quickly, they may have to scramble to find a suitable new place to live. They may not have the time to properly sort through and thin out their belongings, particularly those items that have strong sentimental value. 

One of the best things your parents can do is start planning before a move is necessary. They can look at options for a new home such as condos, life-lease properties, or retirement communities. They can get a feel for some of these places, even if they’re not ready to sell their house just yet. That way, when the time does come to move, they won’t be starting their search from scratch and feeling panicked about it.

They can also begin to go through their “stuff” now. There’s no need to wait. Going through a house full of things isn’t quite so overwhelming if you pace yourself and do a little bit at a time over several months.

How do I influence my parents?


Now, you may think this makes perfect sense, but you’re not entirely confident that your parents will take your advice to plan ahead. After all, for most of your life, they were the ones giving you advice. Advice that may have sounded somewhat similar. Advice that you may not have always welcomed. 

No matter how old you get, your parent will always carry around a younger version of you inside their head. Who are you to tell them how to run their lives?

Here are a few techniques you can use to overcome their skepticism:

  • Consider what’s important to them: You may be focused on keeping them safe. They may be focused on other things that matter to them like social connections, meaningful activities, and autonomy. Keep this in mind when helping them decide what they may want in a new home. 
  • Drop names: If you know that friends of theirs have successfully downsized, drop their name into a conversation. “I hear so-and-so moved to ____. Why don’t you give them a call?”
  • Clear up misconceptions: If your parents are resistant to the idea of a retirement home, it may be that they think of them as places where “old people” go to get care. In fact, many retirement communities place a heavy emphasis on lifestyle and amenities designed to attract active seniors. Gather information that will help to shift your parents’ attitudes and share it with them.
  • Give them time to think: Make suggestions and then give your parents time to consider them. In the end, it’s their decision. Don’t nag. Remember how much you hated to be nagged as a kid.  

Find a professional who specializes in helping seniors move

There are a variety of professionals nowadays who specialize in making seniors’ moves go smoothly. They recognize how emotionally challenging it is to sell a home later in life and are often more willing to take extra time with your parents than someone who isn’t as focused on serving seniors.

They can also connect you with a host of senior-friendly experts from their network including contractors, moving professionals, lawyers, and accountants.

Be prepared for the unexpected

If anything unexpected should ever happen to your parents, you don’t want to discover that you can’t access critical information you need to help them (such as names of physicians who are following them or supplemental health insurance details or banking information). Collect this information ahead of time.