We have a lot of cliche quotes about our homes, like “Home is where the heart is.” or “There’s no place like home.” Then again, these sayings catch on so well through the years because they hold timeless truths. So it’s no surprise that no matter what age, most people struggle with saying goodbye to their homes.
But for older people, the struggle of saying goodbye can be compounded by a complex interwoven web of emotions – like feelings of uncertainty, feeling abandoned, and more. Though it varies per individual, it’s typically a really tough life transition.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have an elderly parent or elderly loved one who is undergoing this phase in life and you would like to support them. Well, you’re in the right place! In this article, we will cover pointers about helping elderly loved ones to let go of their home and move into their next one.
Speak From a Place of Empathy, Not Sympathy
No parent ever wants their child to feel sorry for them. Moreover, showing that you feel sorry for your elderly parent during this life transition will reaffirm a lot of negative sentiments. This is why it’s crucial to communicate with empathy instead of sympathy.
Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s point of view. By communicating from a place of empathy, you are able to avoid minimizing the other person’s pain and truly show that you care. Communicating with empathy is incredibly crucial when your elderly loved one is struggling with overwhelming emotions. Here are a few pointers to show empathy:
Acknowledge their pain
Connecting with your elderly loved one’s pains and struggles is one way to make them feel supported. Don’t rush to fix the problem. Start with statements like these:
- “That sounds really challenging”
- “I can see how this is difficult for you”
Show gratitude that the person opened up
Opening up about challenging emotions (especially for an elderly parent) is not an easy thing to do because it involves vulnerability – so show some gratitude for the trust. You can say:
- “Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me this.”
- “This must be hard to talk about. Thanks for opening up to me.”
There is a fine line between offering encouragement and looking like you’re pressuring your elderly parent to be “fixed” immediately. So instead of common phrases like “it will get better” or “maybe you should <insert advice>,” you can try:
- “I’m here for you always”
- “You are really brave for embracing this change”
- “I love you mom/dad. We’ll get through this”
Help Them Deal With Uncertainties
Elderly persons may need reassurance every now and then that they are going to a good place. So while searching for a retirement home, encourage your elderly parent to tour their new home – before even taking the step of selling their current house. Enter their to-be home with them and plan out where certain possessions could go. If your parent is the type who wants a completely new scene, dream with them on what furniture and decor they would like. You can take them through the wonderful amenities as well. By doing these, you can remind them of the exciting new things that await them if they ever feel uncertainty along the way.
Another source of uncertainty is the entire process of downsizing and relocation. Offer the reassurance that you will do all you can to make the process easy. At Your Next Steps, we have a professional team who can help you take on these added responsibilities.
Be Patient With Indecision
It’s not uncommon for elderly persons to suddenly change their minds or try to back out. Remember to stay calm and speak with empathy. Remind your elderly parent/s about how you have decided together that this was the best course of action. Remind them that selling the house is a step for them to relocate to a place where they can lead active, fulfilling lives or receive the care they need.
Reassure Them of Your Support & Love
There’s a common misconception that seniors in retirement homes are those that don’t have families willing to take care of them. This could well be in the subconscious of your elderly parent’s mind. Reassure them that even if they go to their retirement home, you will visit often. You can also reassure them that this decision was lovingly made for their well-being – then highlight all the good points of their upcoming living situation.
Selling the family home is just one of many steps in the entire process. If you want to go through the process of downsizing, relocation, and everything in between with utmost ease, we can help!