Elderly couple, representing aging parents needing to make a real estate move.

Navigating the Emotional Journey: How to Help Your Aging Parents Embrace Change

Lately, we’ve been consulting with more and more people who are faced with a tough situation. They are tasked with the responsibility of moving an elderly parent out of a family house and into a more suitable living situation. They have to determine what to do with the property, all while making difficult financial, practical and emotional decisions that will affect family dynamics. This is something most of us will encounter at some point. And, we may ultimately experience both sides of the story as we get older and depend on our children and grandchildren to take family leadership roles.

Making Transitions

We depend on our parents and grandparents growing up. Eventually, the roles may reverse and we’ll be tasked with helping care for our elders. It’s the natural cycle of life. Someone in the family will need to be ready to step up when the time comes. The more prepared you can be, the smoother this experience will go. Spend some time talking with your parents, grandparents and in-laws while they are still of sound body and mind. Ask questions. Understand their retirement goals and how they would want to be taken care of if they reach a point where they are having a hard time caring for themselves.

These aren’t easy conversations, but they can make a significant difference. You may also be able to get financial and legal documentation in place (Power of Attorney, wills, living trusts, etc.) to prepare everyone for the changes ahead with a proper estate plan. Ultimately, you may still be faced with some tough decisions. When is the right time to take charge? Who else in the family will be involved in the decision-making processes? What is truly best for your elderly relatives? Yet, the more you can prepare and discuss these issues openly with your family, the more prepared you will be.

Emotional vs. Practical vs. Financial Decisions

This is the hardest part of dealing with a family situation like this. The decisions you make will have significant ramifications on you, your parents/grandparents/in-laws and other family members. You have to find the right balance between emotions, practical solutions and financial implications.

Also, remember the emotional experience that your elderly family members are going through as they are leaving their home and moving into a completely different situation. They may be scared, confused or unsure about the move. You must be sensitive to this fact and do what you can to make their transition as smooth as possible. Find a living solution that makes the most sense and provide them with support along the way. Their physical and mental condition may also have an impact on the decisions you make.

What to Do with a Family Home

From a real estate perspective, one of the biggest decisions to make will be what you do with their home. Again, all the legal documentation should be in place so that you have more options available to you. The right decision may be determined by financial needs of your aging relatives. Do they need the money to live on or pay for their new living situation? Or, will the proceeds of a home sale benefit the family in other ways?

Of course, the biggest decision to make is if you are going to sell the house or keep it. Selling the house will bring financial gains that may be useful, as noted above. Another option could be holding onto it as a rental property. You will have some ongoing homeownership expenses to cover, but the rental income and continued home equity appreciation could be worth the investment—especially if the property is already paid off.

Lastly, the other solution may be you or another family member moving into the house and keeping it in the family.

Here to Help

Helping an aging family member into a new living situation and making these major financial decisions isn’t going to be easy—and it shouldn’t be given all the complex emotional and financial factors involved. For guidance with these sensitive family moves and buying or selling real estate during these times, contact The Cyr Team today.


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