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When is the Right Time for Mom and Dad to Downsize Their Home?

By Michelle Cemental

Downsizing is a personal decision for any senior. Most find that during retirement, it is easier and more enjoyable to live in a senior-optimized home. The houses, condos, and apartments that seniors are downsizing from were often chosen for their family features. Large floorplans, backyards, and multi-story homes are great for a full house of adults and kids, but not so ideal for seniors who have a more conservative daily routine.

Seniors downsize to help them manage household tasks. They downsize to move into a space they can more fully enjoy every day. But if you are making this decision for or with a senior parent, it's important to recognize the right time to downsize. Let's take a look at the most common signs that your loved ones are ready to downsize their home. 

When the House Is Too Big for Routine

Often the earliest sign that downsizing is imminent is when sections of the home go unused. You may notice that your mom or dad has stopped visiting the upper stories of a home, or that they are using the spare bedrooms for anything but storage. You might even notice signs that extra rooms have not been entered or disturbed for weeks, maybe months.

This means that a senior's routine has contracted to fit comfortably in a smaller space. Seniors often use only their master suite, kitchen, and living room for example. They may stop worrying about the other rooms in the house. This is a clear sign that they may be able to downsize without missing the unused rooms.

When Areas Become Inaccessible

Rooms can also fall into disuse because they are no longer accessible to a senior. Stairs, for instance, are often not worth the trouble if the room is not important. Seniors may stop accessing areas of their home or exploring the reaches of their property because it is no longer possible to range out that far. Uneven surfaces, slippery floors, steps, and ancient clutter can cut off areas of the house.

This is a clear sign that your parent needs a living space they can safely make full use of. Their current home is not effectively configured for a retiree lifestyle or safe navigation from room to room.

When Moving Between Rooms is Hazardous

It may also be time to downsize if your parent's home has become hazardous to traverse. If you find yourself worried when watching your parent move from room to room, stepping over doorsteps or rugs, or taking unsteady steps down stairs, it may be time to talk about somewhere new. Your parent likely already knows that things could be better and a new home could be the safely configured fresh start they need to enjoy retirement without navigation hazards at home.

A better space may include a home with a more open floorplan, more kitchen storage within arm’s reach, and other features to ensure a safer environment.

When Maintenance Can't be Managed

Another consideration is the maintenance required to maintain a home. Senior living homes are often designed to minimize the effort needed to live comfortably. The efforts of solo home ownership are often demanding for seniors and might be impossible to take care of alone. If your parent is not keeping up with necessary maintenance tasks like cleaning the gutters, keeping the windows sealed, and calling for repairs, then they may be ready to downsize.

When your mom or dad would rather focus on having a good retirement than scheduling roof repairs, downsizing can be a great relief of responsibilities.

When the House Is Falling Apart

Grown children should also keep an eye out for signs of decay. Not all homes were built to last forever, and a senior set in their ways might miss the signs that a home is deteriorating. Manufactured homes, for example, have a way of coming apart at the seams after a few wonderfully comfortable decades.

If your parent’s home no longer seems safe and would require serious repairs to maintain, it's reasonable to pass that effort on to the next homeowner. Help your parent find a new home that is professionally built and secure so they don't have to worry about the effort to maintain an older house.

When Lifestyle No Longer Suites the House

Often, you can tell that your mom or dad is ready to downsize by the way they live. Retirement changes people's habits as often as it shows that people never change. Your parent may develop new interests and hobbies or a stronger desire to be part of a community that are less suited to their current home. Downsizing to a new location and possibly a senior community could best suit their new retirement lifestyle.

When Mom or Dad Says So

Last but not least, the clearest sign that it's time to downsize is when your mom or dad say they're ready. Many seniors are making plans to optimally enjoy retirement years. They may have already done the research on alternatives and chosen a new lifestyle in a smaller home with better amenities. They may just want to talk it over with you and the family so the transition isn't surprising and to ask for help with the move.

When Mom or Dad Doesn’t Want to Move

Despite all of the signs that a loved one should downsize, it may still be the best option to keep them at home. Seniors who can’t manage their own home may not need to move — instead, they may just need extra help around the house. A caregiver can help seniors maintain a safe environment and keep up with the demands of their space.

At Caring Senior Service, we strive to help each senior remain healthy, happy, and at home. We can also help asses a home environment to help you determine potential hazards at your parent’s home. Contact us today!

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Tags: Senior Safety, Senior Living

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