As a Realtor® specializing in the over-55 homeowner, I am well equipped with knowledge and tools to prepare homeowners to move to a smaller home, to another state, or to a retirement community. In the best of situations, I meet with a husband and wife unified in their commitment to sell the home and simplify their lives. We discuss the sale of their home, the timing, and I provide resources to help them with this challenging transition.
However, it is quite common that there is a “driver” of the decision and a partner who is a reluctant passenger or, at worst unwilling to even get in the car. The body language is clear: hands across the chest, a look of disinterest, a failure to engage in the conversation. There are even times when the reluctant partner is in the home but does not come to the meeting of Realtor® and the inquiring spouse. What is a spouse/partner to do?
The lack of engagement in the decision to downsize can be a simmering annoyance: Mr. Smith is ready to trade a snow shovel for a golf club and move south, Mrs. Smith doesn’t want to leave her quilting club. It can also be dangerous. Mr. Jones has fallen three times and is no longer able to safely navigate stairs but refuses to consider a move. Mrs. Cole struggles with dementia and is not taking her medications but becomes argumentative when the suggestion is made that she needs assistance.
In my experience the hesitation to downsize comes from several different places, but here are the ones I hear most often:
- The “I can do it” excuse. This is the man or woman who refuses to believe or admit that he or she is any less capable than they were 20 years ago. I can still mow the lawn. I can still carry laundry from the basement. I can still climb a ladder.
- Fear of giving up independence. A close cousin to the “I can do it” excuse, this one says “I don’t want anyone having to take care of me, drive me, remind me, guide me, or tell me what to do.” This is a reasonable fear especially in western culture where independence is prized, and age is equated with reduced capacity.
- My home is my castle: fear of living somewhere owned by someone else and living by someone else’s rules.
- Fear of giving up traditions that revolve around a loved home. Thanksgiving around the table in the dining room shared for 30 years is difficult to walk away from.
- Fear of the unknown: I don’t want to give up what I know for a future that is, at best, different and, at worst, completely unknown.
- Unwillingness to give up “stuff.” The reality of downsizing is that not all your “stuff” can go with you.
Next week’s blog will look at how to combat these arguments in a non-combative way. The truth is, there comes a point in life and aging where if you don’t make the decision, the decision is made for you.
This blog is written by Kathy Chiero. Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors. Thinking of Buying or Selling? Find us www.OurOhioHome.com