Successfully Talking with Parents About Moving from Home: A Case Study

When you first begin to talk to your parents about changing their living situation you might be surprised by the results that digging deeper reveals. You’ll find that successfully talking with parents about moving from home is possible, as the following case study reveals. When I sat down to have an open and honoring discussion with Alice, I was rewarded with a true understanding of her feelings. Read on to hear the full interaction and learn the surprising results the conversation yielded.

Successfully Talking with Parents About Moving from Home: Alice’s Story

I was sitting in a client’s living room.  Alice had lived in her Milwaukee home for 49 years.  She was struggling with the concept of moving, and I was sure I knew why.  I asked her if she was ready to move.  She said she thought she should, but she just couldn’t pull the trigger.  I asked what was holding her back.  She thought about it for a while and said she just wasn’t ready. 

Now I had no doubt in my mind that a big piece of her struggle was leaving her home of 49 years.  That was a logical conclusion.  So I said, “I’ll bet it’s difficult to think about leaving this lovely home after so many years.”  Her response amazed me…”No, not really.  I like my house but I’m not a very sentimental person.”  OK, back to square one.  So I asked, “What do you picture when you think of moving into a retirement community?” 

And here, in the follow up question, both she and I got a surprise.  After a loud silence, she said, “That’s a good question…I guess I wonder if I’ll be happy, and what happens if I’m not.”  And before I could make any comment, she continued, “You know, I’ve never said that out loud before, and frankly those words are a surprise to me as well.”  As we talked further I learned that her sister had moved to a community a few years ago, was unhappy and moved out again. I asked if her sister was happy now, she said no, followed by a knowing grin.

I took the opportunity to remind Alice that, though it can be valuable to talk with others who have experienced similar changes, the fact is we’re all different.  And even sisters are different people with different life experiences.  I agreed she should solicit opinions and take advantage of the counsel of those she trusts.  But in the end, I suggested Alice let the outside voices fade and let her own inner voice guide her.  Alice knew the right answer…she just have to learn to trust herself.

There are no magic pills or potions that can get us all on the same page and make a difficult life transition easy.  At the same time, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we sometimes make it.  Taking a step back and considering a different mindset and approach can result in a fresh start to an old issue.  It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we open our minds to the possibilities.

If you’d like more guidance on having an important discussion with your parents about preparing for the future, download our free Planning Question to Ask Seniors worksheet by clicking below. You’ll find it to be an invaluable resource as you discuss tough topics with Mom and Dad.