Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition

by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
 

Moving - Parents MovingIf it’s time for your parents to scale down in Dallas, it can be challenging for the total family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that stayed in one place—so undertaking a move from a house that maintains years of memories is rough for the whole family. But, there are some suggestions for the best way to navigate the transition, so take heart and keep reading.

Plan Ahead

In a flawless world, you have been privy to your parents’ health care and finances for several years prior to when they downsize or move to a senior living community. If your world is not perfect and you do not have a clue, get up to speed with these two specific topics quickly, and keep up to date moving forward. It would be very unfortunate to have a health or financial situation and be totally unaware as to their situation. Asking your parents what their financial picture looks like is hard, but being blindsided when you find out your dad's “best friend” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has gotten all his money is tougher.

Have the talks when there isn’t imperativeness, and your mother doesn't feel like you’re pressuring her out of her home. The more you and your siblings discover over breakfast, the better off you will all be when you have to make choices hurriedly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to ensure that you can help manage things if you need to and that you can get medical and health care records if there is an emergency. These two items are crucially important if you're more than a few hours away, as you might need to handle things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your second-grade soccer teammate, without the proper paperwork in place, they can't tell you anything.

What to Take?

For lots of families, appointing one sibling to be the point person for legal problems is a small concern compared to determining who is going to discern which items move to the new house, what will be donated, and which sibling keeps the family silver. Do not let this start a family argument, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto the china and silver. Besides, most downsizes are accompanied by a notable loss of space—going from a three or four-bedroom house to one or two bedrooms and one living space--so there's a plethora of things to go around.

Once your clan has come to the conclusion that downsizing is right for your parents, if they will be heading to a senior community, there's typically a waiting period of a few months prior to being able to move in. Most communities renovate the units ahead of when a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had been there for a few years, they could do a full update—so you'll usually get items like new counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom components along with fresh paint and carpet. The time offers your parents time to adjust to the idea of moving, especially if they are moving to a new area.

Get a copy of the floor plan of their new abode or apartment. Some retirement communities will give you not only a floor plan, but some peel-off furniture stickers so you can actually place the furniture and accessories. The stickers can be moved all about the floor plan, so you can play decorator until you find the best layout. This is a huge help emotionally, understanding before you move any furniture what they can move with them and how it will conform to the space. Being around themselves with familiar things and mementos can take a little of the sting out of leaving home.

Downsizing - MovingLeading up to Moving Day in Dallas

Moving day for your parents is going to be rough, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and however much they are willing to vacate the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here is a timeline leading up to the big day, giving you a couple of months to get gear up.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Look at your budget to figure out if you would like a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or obtain a truck and do it yourself.

Think about if you'll require some storage, and where you want it to be. Many moving companies have storage options, which can be very useful. Some people aren't sure what will really work in the new space and wish to have a few more options before they make the ultimate decision. In addition, when college-age grandkids are in the mix, some families prefer to hold on to old chairs and other things that could be used in first apartments.

Commence deciding what they will move, which things you and your siblings will divide up, and what to donate. However you decide to divide up, you will need to designate what goes to whom. Assorted colored small sticky notes are a wonderful way to keep track, so that the right items wind up going to the right places.

Be flexible with your parents on what to give to charity--although the thought of a moving sale is tempting, if money is not an issue, you will likely do better donating most items and taking the write-off. If they have valuable items, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them prior to donating. Some charities, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, can even direct a truck to collect your donated items. Call a few days or so out to organize pick up.

One Month Out

Start clearing out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you've got more belongings than motivation, employ a company to come clean out after you've moved everything that you want out of the house. This is well worth the charge, especially if you don’t live nearby and your parents are having a difficult time with the move. You can also set up to have the moving company load up the household goods and personal things before the balance of the house is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from seeing their house looking empty and lonely.

If you are performing your own packing, get acceptable-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest prices and can offer packing suggestions. Again, take out the sticky notes for the boxes or be organized with keeping everything in order. If everyone is local, it is ideal to bring over some big tubs and be able to leave later with old stuffed animals and t-ball trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That is most of the time not the case, so as you pack up the boxes, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or stake out corners of the living room.

One Week Out

Double-check your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new home and taking things to storage. If you are not positive the amount of storage you will need, they can assist you in calculating, you will probably truly need twice the space you think.

Moving Day

Make sure you have discussed everyone’s roles for moving day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend take your parents out for breakfast, and then on to their new abode. You or a sibling stay behind to handle the movers. Ease as much anxiety as you can that morning, so when the moving truck gets to their place your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and don't be shocked if they are already invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and in high demand.

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