by Joy Loverde
The process of talking about moving out of the family home with a reluctant parent is tricky; but not impossible. The secret of success is two-fold: start planting seeds early and ask questions as a way to build trust.
Every conversation you will have about moving will be subject to a communication breakdown. Conversations can come to a screeching halt at anytime and when you least expect it. Every conversation about moving will be tainted with the underlying theme of your parents’ need for independence; keeping the trust factor high requires us to assure them time after time that our motive is not to “take away” what is rightfully theirs.
To better accomplish the goal of sustaining trust between you and your parents, listen more than you speak, and ask questions rather than make statements, or worse yet, demands. You will also be more effective when you resist the temptation to offer unsolicited advice.
My book, The Complete Eldercare Planner has numerous communication tips for emotionally-challenging conversations. To get started, facilitate conversations that lead your parents to start thinking about moving. Here are a few questions to ask early in the process...
- The cost of keeping up my house sure has me on a pretty tight budget. How do you handle it?
- I’m just beginning to think about planning for my own retirement, and it looks like you’re doing pretty well. When you planned for financing your retirement, did you decide that the proceeds from the eventual sale of your house would help pay for long-term care?
- I’m starting to clear out the basement and wondering what I should give to charity. What would you donate if you were me?
- I hate to think about the day I can no longer drive. How will I get around? Does that ever worry you too?
- You mentioned that many of your friends are moving out of the neighborhood. That must be pretty hard on you. What are some of the reasons they moved out?
If you’re ready to initiate conversations about moving, be sure the time and place is right for you. Make sure you’re not overtired or stressed-out. Get a good night’s sleep the night before. And while you’re at it... think about the possibility that talking with your parents one-on-one may work better in the long run than approaching them together.