Houses have souls. Well, maybe not shiny-new houses. But houses with patina certainly do. Structures that have sheltered families, absorbed the laughter and secrets of children, harbored keepsakes and witnessed the emotional nourishment of family dinners…such houses become imbued with life. So, when it comes time to sell the family home, the experience can be wrenching.
In my own family, my sister began lobbying my mother to move to an assisted living facility years before Mom finally made the move. It took our mother some time to mentally separate from the home she loved, and where she had loved and raised a family. In truth, my siblings and I shed a few tears during the move as well. It was the right thing for Mom, but as long as she lived there, our childhood memories were secure.
Care.com clients often share mixed feelings about selling the family home. Sometimes adult children worry that their elderly parents will somehow get better, or will want to return home and their house will no longer be there. Sometimes the parents are past caring about the house, but the children can’t bear to part with the security of home base. One client confessed that while her mother didn’t know where she was anymore—and needed the safety of a senior care facility—she found it painful to say goodbye to the home where she grew up. We were able to help her by talking through the transition, and by recommending a senior move manager to facilitate the process.
Generations ago, this was less of an issue. People didn’t live as long, and they got sick and died quickly, often at home. Families usually lived in the same town, and sometimes an adult child might simply buy the family homestead from his or her siblings. Today, seniors live longer—often past the time when they’re physically capable of keeping up a family-sized house—and adult children often live too far away, or have too many obligations, to care for a parent’s home as well as their own. Also, proceeds from sale of the family home and excess furnishings may be needed to pay for assisted living or nursing home care.
That doesn’t make the separation any easier. I’d love to hear from families who made the decision to sell the family home. How did you come to the decision? Did you use a move manager to ease the process? Do you still feel it was the right thing to do? Share your experience—you may help another family.
If you're trying to decide what to do about the family home and you need support, call our Senior Care Advisors at 855-772-2730.