Al and Cal Homes and Community: Supporting Senior Parents That Want to Move

Supporting Senior Parents That Want to Move

Supporting Senior Parents That Want to Move

The past few weeks have been interesting for me.    I have received calls from senior folks looking to make a move and for one reason or another they have back peddled, changing their minds because they are thinking of their kids or the task it to overwhelming.

Disclaimer: I am not saying in any way shape or form that seniors can not make decisions for themselves!  Everything is relative as I can be seen as senior myself!Supporting family

For this discussions sake, I am talking about folks that have lived in a home for many years and have adult children.    The folks that I have met with for the most part are physically agile, alert and very much wanting to enjoy an active, vibrant lifestyle.  They just want to move for one reason or another.   Ease of living, house is too big, less worry about maintenance, or a new start. 

I am not talking about places they can go, because we have as a community developed many alternatives in terms of active adult subdivisions emphasizing maintenance free living.    In my market area, we have many different options for the 55 and older group.   We also have independent living communities that offer apartment / condo style living with all kinds of amenities within the community itself including dining, wood working shops, exercise facilities, etc.    I have recently found something that I thought had been lacking and that was a rental community geared to the over 55 group.   

So, having said this, a senior has many different options available to them that were not available in the past.  

How you can help when your parent(s) want to move.  

Recognize that it is a highly emotional decision.   Do Not put the guilt trip on them!!    Do not say to them don't sell my childhood home.    There are some that might think this piece of advice is silly, but believe me, I have seen it in action.  The adult child does not really mean anything by these harmless (or so they think) comments.    But, it does have a real effect on an older person that has spent, in many cases, their entire life in this home.   There are tons of memories here and it is difficult to make that change.   Don't give them reason for doubt.  See it as the positive step it can be for them.

Help  get their "house" in order.    For many that have been in a home for years and raised a kid or two in a home, they have "stuff."   Removing and weeding through that "stuff" is daunting at any age.   I do believe that older folks are more reluctant to just pitch things that have function and are in good shape.   Help your parents find a place for these things be it a charitable organization or the dump.    Read Peggy Hughes, Professional Moving Organizers blog, for tips on this.      After just going through a move myself, I do understand how much physical work it is.    Recognize that getting their things packed and in order is a physical ordeal for someone of any age and offer to lend a hand.   

Engage in the house hunt with them.  How cool will it be for your parents to have what is considered common place today.   Imagine them having a laundry on the main floor, or central air!   How nice that they might have a garage or a new kitchen?   Be excited for them. 

Help with the financial aspects.   I am not advocating paying for their new home, although that would be nice if we could do that.   What I do mean is help them understand the costs in reference to today's dollar.  So many times I have seen someone say that they can't afford this new community, because they don't realize the value of their own place.    It might be that they paid $17,000 for their home and don't understand that they can swap it for a new one.   Do you think this is silly?   It's not.   Many of these folks underestimate the value of their home and don't believe they can get into something more suitable at a price that they would gladly pay.

If they are looking at a condo, help them understand the fee in realistic terms.    It goes for cutting of the grass, shoveling snow, insurance.   These things they are probably already paying someone for now.   So, what's the big deal?

Ultimately as adult children we need to think of what is best for our parents and support their decisions as to what they want to do and where they want to live.   Sure, they can stay in the family homestead.  That's their decision, but when/if they want to move, help to make it easy for them.   

It's not about us this time.


About the author

Carol-Ann PalmieriCarol-Ann Palmieri, a full time Real Estate professional in Massachusetts for the past 24 years along with Al Mussi have helped hundreds of families find, sell or purchase new places to live.

A former US Marine, she grew up in Walpole, MA...  is committed to the serving the community through various volunteer opportunities.   She attended MA Bay Community and Suffolk University and is committed to constantly updating her Real Estate education. 

Licensed in MA and RI...

Al and Cal's primary areas of service Franklin, Bellingham, Medway, Millis, Medfield, Norfolk, Wrentham, Plainville, Blackstone, Walpole, Milford, Holliston, Hopkinton, Mansfield, and Foxboro, North Attleboro, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville but have resourses to help anyone, anywhere....

Her mission....  To exceed your expectations!



Carol-Ann Palmieri

Al and Cal Realty Group

Remax Executive Realty




Comment balloon 40 commentsCarol-Ann Palmieri • July 28 2012 07:43AM


Nothing to do with emotions.

It's the thought of having to "clean out the house" to prepare it for sale that holds many back. 

The older the owners, the more "stuff" they have collected and the harder it becomes.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Hi Carol Ann....preparing a home for sale is a huge undertaking at an older's major at any age....I just did it 4 years ago and I am not a pack rat....if I don't us it, it's history....I save nothing... and preparing was still an effort....I think the emotion doesn't hit them until just before closing and it passes quickly.

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Hi Lenn.   We do tend to accumulate a lot of "good" stuff and don't know what to do with it when we move.   It can be paralyzing.  

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Barbara.   I agree and it is so much easier if the family is all on board with the move.

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann:  You're so right ... this is a very emotionally charged issue.  For both parent .. and children, if they exist.  And can be traumatic and problematic for families to deal with.  I've gone through this with my wife's family.  Saw varying responses to their parent's move years ago .. and then after death.  All the kids were supportive of their parent's decision, but each had their own varying emotional reaction to it.  Came to accept the move at varying speed.  Beyond that, there are lots of issues to deal with.  You so eloquently touch upon them.

This is an issue that many of us Boomers are facing now.  Either with our own parents ... or if an older Boomer, facing in our own lives directly.  A topic that needs to be talked about ahead of time with family members ... and planned for in advance.   Congrats for helping to start the conversation ...  and the Feature ...


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) almost 7 years ago

Hello Carol Ann:

Here in Sun City Texas we are on the receiving end of people who have just done this.  My personal observation is the buyers I work with love life, love the idea of new beginnings, and are ready for a fitting reward to a life well lived (so far).

Posted by Brian Rugg, Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est (Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-966-3200) almost 7 years ago

My siblings and I just did some cleaning up at my parents' house two years ago.  We gave away stuff to Goodwill, trashed a lot of junk, broken electronics, and empty boxes, and collected a number of items my parents wanted us to have.  

This was only Stage One.  The home is still overstuffed with furniture and other items, we only handled the most obvious stuff that was clogging the basement.

My own home is just a bad.  I regularly take things to Goodwill, but not nearly enough.  I have more than a closet full of "stuff" that is just not needed and I should let go.  It's something I work on mentally every month -- working my emotions to LET GO.

When I see empty homes freshly painted or staged, it motivates me to clean up!!!

Posted by Richard Arnold, Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix (Keller Williams Realty East Valley) almost 7 years ago

Thanks for posting.  I think that sometimes older parents are sometimes treated as if they are no longer capable of making these types of decisions.  Nothing could be less true.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) almost 7 years ago

Hi Carol Ann, my mother was a lucky one she stayed in her house up to her last week. I had lunch with a friend yesterday and he was going through this very thing with his parents. Thanks for posting this.

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann,  A wonderful post for anyone thinking of or preparing to move.   The older they become, the harder I believe it is.  There is a lifetime of memories attached to their home.  I'm dealing with this right now.  I think it's better to do it sooner than later.  

Posted by Elyse Berman, PA, Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR (Best Connections Realty, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

I have a great elderly customer who is now on her own.  We actually bought their house and sold them a smaller one, step 1.  Now she would like to go to a senior community where she isn't so lonely.  Daughter is all for it and lives 1,200 miles away.  2 sons are completely against it and live 1,200 miles away.  Why in the world would they want their mother to be lonely and miserable? m It's because they're waiting for the real estate market to rebound so they get a few more $ in their pocket.  Sad.

Posted by Chris and Dick Dovorany, Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty ( Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida) almost 7 years ago

Great post Carol Ann. I especially like where you point out not to give them guilt trips, even jokingly. It's not right for them to feel it's so important for the family to keep the tradition of some holiday gathering that always takes place at their home one day out of the year. It's better to help them savor past gatherings maybe with digital photo albums or scrapbooks. When senior folks make their move, they will be amazed how freeing it is to live in a smaller living space which probably is in a community offering more services and social activities.

Posted by Karen Burns almost 7 years ago

This is a very timely post Carol Ann since many boomers are facing this situation today.  There are so many dynamics involved in making this decision that it can be overwhelming for many so they just stay put. Or they decide to continue on the way they've lived for 50 or 60 years and let their family deal with it after they're gone.  Been there, done that.  Have learned not to be such a disorganized pack rat and when I move back into my home I will eliminate possessions I'm not using and pass on those items I want someone else to have.  

Posted by Iris Stuart (none) almost 7 years ago

Consider also that you can hire professionals to help sort and organize, and even pack and move seniors if desired. This is a professional and certified service called senior relocating specialists (who you probably have in your areas) as they are a national organization trained, certified and bonded.   I never knew these people existed until I met one on site. 

Now,  Katherine Bellingham is my go-to expert; I met her when I was measuring a luxury Penthouse going onto the market and she was already onsite working with the 75 yr old client, sorting .. packing, etc. For seniors who are overwhelmed with the amount of stuff they have,  it's like having a genie come out of a bottle.  And it nots just for seniors .. I bumped into Katherine again at the home of a very pregnant seller with a 2 yr old and and 3 yr old --- who's husband was transferred. The lady sat comfortably and composedly, they discussed and Katherine took care of everything else and made it happen ... collected and delivered items to be donated; collected and delivered items to the resale shop, etc. -- sorted, packed, labeled and inventoried each box -- generates a paper trail for each activity, binds it in a notebook and hands you a tabbed and indexed notebook at the end of the project complete with project log, receipts, names & addresses of vendors, etc.  It's just amazing ... well worth your time to investigate this level of service and the varied services they offer for your area. For children geographically distant from their parents, this sort of service can be tremendously helpful.    

Posted by Judith Sinnard, The SMARTePLAN Lady (SMARTePLANS; Houston, Texas) almost 7 years ago

Excellent post with wonderful suggestions, Carol Ann!!  Working with seniors specializing in reverse mortgages, I find children often have an opinion, sometimes acting like their parents aren't cabable of making decisions on their own.  I encourage them to have a discussion on what their wants and desires are.  They can all have time together going through the house, sharing memories.  As you point out, it is an emotional time, recognize this and go through the grieving process together but also celebrate the "new life."

To reduce some of the stress there are mediators that can help with family discussions, there are companies who specialize in moving seniors, helping sort organize and get rid of the unwanted items.

I remember when my dad was moving from our childhood home in IN (that he had built and moved into just months before I was born) to remarry a woman in Canada, my siblings and I were there going from room to room, helping him sort things, finding treasures and sharing the memories.  An emotional weekend is an understatement! But even though dad was moving further away from all of us, he was happy and deserved the happiness, after all we all had our own lives.

Regarding helping with the finances, a reverse mortgage can be used to purchase a new home so they don't have to make monthly payments.  It relieves the children from having to help financially and can fee up cash for seniors to live more comfortably with whatever the need or want.  A note of caution though when looking for the new home, being reverse mortgages are FHA loans, if they are looking at condos, they need to be FHA approved.  Even if one is not doing the reverse mortgage to purchase the home, in the future they may have a need to free up cash and wouldn't qualify if they are in a non-approved FHA condo.  As the agent for seniors, you can assist by showing them properties that are FHA approved.

People need to recognize that in the end it's the seniors'/parents' decision.  As you point out, don't make it harder on them, support their decision - they have the right to enjoy their life.

Thanks for sharing your insights!  I'm going to share.

Posted by Beth Paterson, CRMP, NMLS #342859 (Reverse Mortgages SIDAC, LLC, NMLS #1790592) almost 7 years ago

The fact that it is overwhelming is the most daunting one. If they have lived in a home many, many years, it is going to take a lot of time to go through every thing. I know, I'm there now.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann: Anyone who has moved knows how overwhelming the process can be...having helpers and a strong plan will make it much easier for seniors.  Congrats on the feature!

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (ColdwellBanker SSK Realtors ~ 478.960.8055) almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann: I was so proud of my mother who, 10 years after my father died and at the age of 75, sold the home she had lived in for many years with her husband, my father. She bought mostly new furniture, and started life again, making new friends in the "over 55" community. She had a great ten years there. Then she decided she needed a smaller place that had some services, and moved once again at about 85 to be near a sister of mine. There, unfortunately, she was only for a few years when she died. Although she shrunk her personal posessions at each move, there were a few things of our childhood and growing up that she kept--like my high school graduation dress. Wow. I was lucky that each time my mother moved, it was HER idea, and she was always so excited about a new start.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) almost 7 years ago

Family matters are always difficult to deal with. It's a balancing act between trying hard to make our clients happy, and somehow working within the family dynamics that are already present and underlying. Thanks for the great post.

Posted by J. Worley, AZ Attorney: Personal Injury & Divorce (Divorce & Child Custody) almost 7 years ago

Hi Carol Ann..  There a lot of emotions.. I think this post is very helpful in working with folks to be able to move forward.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Carol Ann...the seniors friends can have an impact too.  I remember when my mother-in-law was considering selling her house several years ago.  One of her friends kept telling her not to ever sell or leave her house.  It really made things difficult for her.

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - almost 7 years ago

Thank you for this excellent post Carol Ann.  It is going to be a fast growing segment of the market.  For my mother, her best interests were served by selling our family home, and moving to an over 55, upper scale apartment complex.  Everything is on one floor, including the laundry.  They have a gym, movie room, game room and other services geared for the needs of the tenants, and no worrying over who is going to plow the driveway in winter.

Posted by Dan Derito (Success! Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

I always recommend that folks take it slow, have a few yard sales to get rid of some of the clutter will go a long way.

Posted by Charles Stallions Property Manager, Pensacola, Pace & Gulf Breeze Property Management (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services) almost 7 years ago


I am in the midst of writing a post about this very same subject.  A move for a senior is an emotional and taxing.  All the things that have to be done can overwhelm a senior.  Everything needs to be done in a slow and steady manner otherwise the senior may balk and just shut down.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) almost 7 years ago

My mother has lived in two homes. The first for 20 years and now the second for 25. It's time for her to move on but she is having a tough time. She hates the idea of letting go of some of her stuff and she's got a lot. I suspect she would prefer to die in this place but she can't really afford it anymore. I think it's a slam dunk and she should move but she thinks otherwise.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) almost 7 years ago

Hi Gene.   Thanks for weighing in and sharing.  

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Brian.  Moving is an adventure and most times a good thing.   Glad to hear you are on the receiving end of happiness!

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Rich.  I totally hear where you are coming from.    After just making a move myself, I can relate!


Hi Charlie.   I am in 100 percent agreement with you.


Hi Adrian.  I am sorry for your loss.   Thanks for reading.


Hi Elyse.    For the most part we are creatures of habit.  You are probably right.


Hi Chris and Dick.  Very Sad.   A similar situation is what prompted this post.


Hi Karen.  Right?   Not to mention cleaning that 5 bedroom house!


Hi Iris.   It is easier to do nothing for sure, but too bad in many cases and with help and encouragement, who knows what adventure would be next!


Thank you all for reading.  I appreciate your comments. 

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Judith.   Thank you for the excellent information!


Hi Beth.   Why is it that so many are freaked out about reverse mortgages when in some instances they can allow someone to have a better life?    Thanks for sharing.


Hi Sandy.  haha.  I know, right?


Hi Anita.  Planning is everything and I must say personally not my strongest suit.   :)  


Hi Hella.   I am sorry for your loss.   Your mother sounds like one cool lady, and I hope to be just like that!


Thanks all for reading and commenting.  I have enjoyed reading your thoughts!

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Scott.  I am sure you see it a lot.   Having a family attorney helps. 


Hi Joan.   Thank you.


Hi Christine.  You know, I hadn't thought of that until you mentioned it, but you are right!!


Hi Dan.   That is the way I see it.  Freedom!


Hi Charles.   Yard sales are a good way to de clutter and not worry about throwing good stuff away.


Hi Evelyn.   I am experiencing this now with a very nice lady whose children are not on board.    Sad.


Thank you all for reading.  I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Tammie.   I have to tell you that I can relate!  

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann, you make a very valid point that the adult children should support their parents decision to make a move. Many time just the upkeep of a home can be overwhelming for the aging population.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann, I think the most difficult part for anyone of any age is the deciding and then letting go of their things if they are downsizing.  When one accumulates a lot of things it can be difficult, I have seen this many times.  For myself, I have been a collector of dishes, all kinds, there ws hardly a dish I did not like.  I don't go there anymore and have given away and sold so many pieces, my attachment is mainly gone.  It is a good feeling.  I am constantly cleaning out and leaning down possessions I really do not need anymore. There will be so many people who need help with this and soon.

Posted by Mary Stewart, Wilsonville and Surrounding Portland Metro Areas (HomeTrust Real Estate, LLC, Homes for Everyone) almost 7 years ago


Wow another featured post written by you and congrats as you do write excellent blogs. Your blog here is very well written and the conclusion is perfect in my mind with your advice.

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) almost 7 years ago

Hi Michael.  Thank you.  Absolutely, especially if they live alone.


Hi Mary.   A girl with my own heart.   I don't know what the fascination is, but I love dishes too and would hate to start weeding them out.     I can honestly say I haven't met a dish I didn't like.




Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Hi Bob.  Thank you very much.   After reading your blogs and commentary on others, I kind of figured we would be on the same wave length.  

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) almost 7 years ago

Great post Carol Ann, i work with many seniors who have no family and it is extremely tough on them.  Getting their name into senior housing years before they plan to move is a must & then I tend to guide them as best as I can.  Families who are involved help this transition for sure.

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

These are usch important family issues. It seems most folks I deal with who are relocating to a 55+ community here are doing so on their own. It is the ones who have not made the decision I never see - until perhaps a little help from the children influences them. Excellent post.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Terrific post Cal, congratulations on the feature.  The moving decision is very difficult unless there are other factors forcing the move.  Many times, as you point out, the decision gets reversed.

Posted by Al Raymondi, Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales (Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida) almost 7 years ago

Carol Ann, you have the million dollar question about reverse mortgages!  I'll hear "reverse mortgages are bad" but no one can tell me why they are "bad."  Media and politicians ans post a lot of misinformation so that may be the basis of the misconceptions and fear.  They are not always right for everyone but certainly a good option to be considered, at least people should get the facts on them before making a decision.

Regarding weeding out... seniors who have lived through, or had parents live through, the depression often are afraid to let go because they had lost so much - it's psychological and something to keep in mind when working with them. :-)

Posted by Beth Paterson, CRMP, NMLS #342859 (Reverse Mortgages SIDAC, LLC, NMLS #1790592) almost 7 years ago