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 dealing with a move from a house that maintains years of memories is hard for the whole family. But, there are some tips for the best way to navigate the transition, so take heart and keep reading.

Plan Ahead

In a flawless world, you have been in the loop on your parents’ health care and finances for a few 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 in the future. It would be very unfortunate to have a health or financial situation and be totally in the dark as to their situation. Questioning your parents about their finances is difficult, 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 more difficult.

Have the dialogues when there isn’t rush, 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 rulings hurriedly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to ensure that you can help manage things if you need to and that you can obtain medical and health care reports if there is an emergency. These two items are vitally 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 that paper trail, 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 choose what moves to the new house, what will be donated, and which sibling keeps the family silver. Do not let this commence a family fight, your parents are moving and will likely keep the china and silver. Besides, most downsizes are accompanied by a substantial 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 items to go around.

Once your clan has made the decision that downsizing is right for your parents, if they will be going to a senior community, there's typically a waiting period of a couple months before they actually make the move. 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 might 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 grow accustomed to the thought 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 provide 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 around with it 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 belongings 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 difficult, even if you are very organized, and however much they are glad to vacate the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here is a timeline to get ready for 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 determine 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.

Decide if you'll require some storage, and where you want it to be. The majority of moving companies provide storage options, which can be very helpful. 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 . In addition, when college-age grandkids are present, some families elect to hold on to old couches and other items that could be used in first apartments.

Begin deciding what they will move, which items you and your siblings will divide up, and what to donate. However you decide to divvy up, you will need to indicate what goes to whom. Various colored small sticky notes are a good way to keep track, so that the right belongings wind up going to the right places.

Be flexible with your parents on what to give to charity--although the concept of a moving sale is tempting, if money is not an issue, you will likely do better donating most stuff and taking the write-off. If they have valuable belongings, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them before you donate. Some charities, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, can even send a truck to collect your donated things. 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 stuff than motivation, hire 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 live out of town and your parents are having a difficult time with the move. You can also set up to have the moving company move the household goods and personal possessions before the remainder 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 give packing suggestions. Again, take out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a plan for keeping them in order. If everyone is local, it is ideal to bring over some big boxes and pull out of the driveway an hour 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 residence and taking things to storage. If you are not positive how much 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 oversee the movers. Ease as much worry as you can that morning, so when the moving van gets to their place your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them unpack and get 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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