How To Talk To Your Parents About Downsizing And Letting Go

It’s a conversation we never want to have but for a lot of us the time will come when we need to talk to mom and dad about moving out of the family home into something smaller and more manageable or perhaps even into assisted living.

You may have noticed that they just can’t keep up with the family home any longer and for physical or financial requirements they need to move.

These tips and suggestions can take a little bit of the pain out of that sensitive conversation.

Start the conversation early

Don’t wait until the move is imminent. Start the conversation early on to let your parents know that you’re thinking of them and their welfare. Talk to them just to find out how open they are to the option and whether they’ve been thinking about it themselves. If you wait until the crisis has started you are apt to make plans that are less thought out causing undue stress on them and you.


Parents really don’t want to be a burden on their children so I think you’ll find they may be quite receptive to talking about it early to let you know how they feel about it and to express their specific wishes.

Make sure everyone agrees

It’s important to have all the siblings, and in laws as well, on the same page. Whether mom and dad are going to live with you, move into a smaller home or reside in assisted living it’s important that all family members agree on the plan and agree with the decision made by the parents.

Leave any emotional baggage or past disagreements outside. What’s best for your parents is what’s important here. Sometimes one sibling can feel guilty about placing parents in assisted living or wants them to stay in the family home for personal reasons. If you are not all on the same page it will cause anxiety and chaos for your parents.

Deciding what will go with them

Any move is likely going to result in smaller spaces. If your parents have lived in their current home for a long period of time you can bet they have accumulated a lot of memories and treasures.

Crowded home

Find out what is most important to them and see if it can be accommodated in the new home. If not, there are a lot of options to keep the memories close by such as memory books, shadow boxes and storage containers. Moving is tough enough but holding on to some of the most important memories will ease the stress.

Deciding what to do with the rest

Our parents are probably the last of the generations that hang on to things. Today we don’t hold much value for things like china or formal dining room sets. Our taste in clothes and jewellery is also much different.

Your parents may believe that everything they have still holds value and it does. Just maybe not the value they believe. Find out what charities they support and suggest they donate to that cause. Hold an estate sale or consign the larger items for sale if they want or need the funds. If need be you can always have a professional appraiser come in to have a final say on the value. If there are items being left to certain family members perhaps mom and dad want to give the item to them now so they can see them get the use out of it.

Keep them safe

Let your parents know that the discussions you are having and the assistance you are giving them is out of love and you are looking out for their best interests. You don’t want them to be burdened with a home they cannot take care of any longer nor do you want their new home to become a safety/trip hazard with items they don’t want or need in the new smaller quarters.

It can be a tough, gut wrenching conversation but if you start it early, be supportive and let them know it is out of love the conversation will go a lot easier. If you need help with the process of de-cluttering, downsizing or moving to smaller spaces contact me here and we can chat.