Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition

by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
 

Moving - Parents MovingWhen it is time for your parents to downsize in El Paso, it is challenging for the whole family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that that weren’t transient in nature—so dealing with a move from a home that holds over a quarter century of memories is tough for the whole family. However, there are some tips for the best way to navigate the transition, so take heart and read on.

Plan Ahead

In a flawless world, you have been privy to your parents’ health care and finances for a few years prior to when they scale down or move to a senior living community. If your world is not flawless and you do not have a clue, get up to speed with these two imperative items as soon as possible, and keep up to date in the future. You definitely don’t want to have a health or financial emergency and be totally in the dark as to their position. Questioning your parents about their finances is difficult, but being blindsided when you discover your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has gotten all your parents’ money is tougher.

Have the dialogues when there's no imperativeness, and your mother doesn't feel like you’re pushing her to sell her residence. The more you and your siblings can glean over lunch, the better off you will all be when you must make choices rapidly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to ensure that you can assist in managing affairs if needed and that you can obtain medical and health care information if there is an emergency. These two items are crucially important if you are more than a few hours away, as you could need to take care of things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your second-grade soccer teammate, without the right permissions in writing, they can't provide you any information.

What to Take?

For many families, selecting one sibling to be the person in charge of legal problems is nothing compared to determining who gets to decide which items move to the new home, what will be donated, and which sibling gets the family silver. Do not allow this create a family rift, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto the china and silver. Anyway, 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 is a plethora of things to go around.

After your family has determined that downsizing is best for your parents, if they will be heading to a senior community, there is typically a waiting period of a few months prior to being able to move in. Most communities refurbish the units ahead of when a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had been there for many years, they could do a complete update—so you will usually get items like new counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and carpet. These weeks offer your parents time to acclimate to the plan of moving, especially if they are going to a new town.

Ask for a copy of the floor plan of their new abode or apartment. Some retirement communities will hand you not only a floor plan, but a sheet of adhesive peel-off furniture stickers so you can actually place the furniture and accessories. The pieces can be moved on the floor plan, so you can play around with it until you get it just right. This is a enormous help emotionally, knowing before you move any furniture what they can move with them and how it will conform to the space. Surrounding themselves with familiar belongings and mementos can take some of the sting out of leaving home.

Downsizing - MovingLeading up to Moving Day in El Paso

Moving day for your parents will probably be tough, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and if they're glad to move out of the house and not have the yard anymore. Here's a short schedule to prepare for the big day, giving you about eight weeks to get prep.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Think about your budget to figure out if you want a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or rent a moving van and do it yourself.

Think about if you'll need some storage, and where you want it to be. Many moving companies provide storage options, which can be very convenient. It’s not uncommon for people to wish to have a few more choices before they make the ultimate determination. As well, when college-age grandkids are present, some families prefer to store old couches and other items that could be used in first apartments.

Start deciding what they can move, which things you and your siblings will divvy up, and what to give to charity. However you opt to divvy up, you'll need to designate what goes to whom. Different colored small sticky notes are a great way to note things, so that the correct things end up going to the right destinations.

Discuss with your parents on what to donate--although the idea of a moving sale is inviting, if money is not a concern, you will likely do better donating most things and taking the write-off. If they have valuable things, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them before you give them to a charity. Some organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, can even dispatch a truck to collect your donated items. Call a week or so out to organize pick up.

One Month Out

Begin cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more belongings than motivation, hire a company to come clean out once you have gotten everything that you want out of the residence. This is positively worth the cost, especially if you're out of town and your parents are having a tough time with the move. You can also arrange to have the moving company take the household goods and personal belongings before the remainder of the residence is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their house looking empty and lonely.

If you are performing your own packing, purchase acceptable-quality packing supplies. The moving company will have the best quality at the lowest cost and can provide packing suggestions. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a plan for keeping things in order. If all of the siblings are nearby, it is ideal to bring over some big tubs and leave a couple hours later with old prom dresses and diving trophies all packed up in the car. That's many times not the case, so as you pack boxes, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a designated corner of the living room.

One Week Out

Verify your plans with the moving company, both for the move to the new home and moving to storage. If you're not sure how much storage you'll require, they can help you in figuring it out, you will most likely actually need twice the space you think.

Moving Day

Be sure to have a solid plan for moving day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend take your parents out for breakfast, and then on to the new house. You or a sibling stay behind to manage 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 do not be shocked if they're invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and everyone will want to meet them.

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