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 San Antonio, it's tough on the entire family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that stayed in one place—so tackling a move from a house that maintains decades of memories is rough for the entire family. However, there are some tips for a smooth transition, so take heart and read on.

Plan Ahead

In an ideal world, you have been in the loop on your parents’ health care and finances for a few years before they scale down or move to a senior living community. If your world is not perfect and you do not know much about your parents’ matters, get up to speed with these two specific components quickly, and stay up to date in the future. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial emergency and be entirely unaware as to their condition. Asking your parents for information about their finances is tough, but being surprised when you learn your dad's “best friend” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has taken all your parents’ money is more difficult.

Have the talks when there is no urgency, and your mom doesn't feel like you’re pushing her out of her house. The more you and your siblings find out over lunch, the better off you'll all be when you must make rulings rapidly. Meet with their attorneys and doctors to ensure that you can assist in managing affairs if you need to and that you can access medical and health care information if there is an emergency. These two items are crucially important if you live more than a couple of hours away, as you could need to handle things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your fourth-grade cubby buddy, without that paper trail, they can't tell you anything.

What to Take?

For many families, selecting one sibling to be the main person for legal issues is nothing compared to working out who is going to discern which items move to the new house, what will be donated, and which sibling keeps the family china. Don't allow this commence a family rift, your parents are moving and will likely keep the china and silver. In any case, most downsizes come with 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 plenty of things to go around.

After your clan has determined that downsizing is right for your parents, if they will be going to a senior community, there is normally a waiting period of a couple months prior to being able to move in. Most communities refurbish the units before a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had been there for many years, they could do a whole update—so you'll normally get items like new counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and flooring. The time offers your parents time to adjust to the idea of moving, especially if they are going to a new city.

Ask for a copy of the floor plan of their new house or apartment. Some retirement communities will give 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 paper, so you can play around with it until you find the best layout. This is a enormous help emotionally, realizing before you move any furniture what they can take with them and how it will fit in the space. Being around themselves with familiar furniture and mementos can take some of the sting out of leaving home.

Downsizing - MovingLeading up to Moving Day in San Antonio

Moving day for your parents will probably be rough, even if you are very organized, and if they are ready to move out of the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here is a brief agenda leading up to the big day, giving you two months to get prep.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Work with your budget to decide if you want a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or get a truck and do it yourself.

Figure out if you'll need some storage, and where you want it to be. Most moving companies have storage options, which can be very convenient. It’s not uncommon for people to want to have a few extra options before they make the ultimate . Also, when college-age grandchildren are present, some families elect to hold on to old furniture and other items that will come in handy in first apartments.

Start deciding what you parents can take, which items you and your siblings will divide up, and what to donate. However you opt to split up, you will want to indicate what goes to whom. Assorted colored small sticky notes are a great way to sort things, so that the correct things end up arriving at the correct destinations.

Work with your parents on what to donate--although the idea of a yard sale is attractive, if money is not a concern, you'll most 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 organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, can even direct a truck to pick-up your donated things. Call a week or so out to organize pick up.

One Month Out

Commence cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you've got more belongings than motivation, employ a company to come clean out after you have moved everything that you want out of the residence. This is well worth the money, especially if you're out of town and your parents are having a hard time with the move. You can also plan to have the moving company load up the household goods and personal possessions before the balance of the residence is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their residence looking empty and lonely.

If you're performing your own packing, buy decent-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest prices and can offer packing suggestions. Again, pull out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a system for keeping things in order. If everyone is nearby, it is simple to bring over some big bins and pull out of the driveway an hour later with old yearbooks and diving trophies all packed up in the car. That's usually not the case, so as you pack up the boxes, label them correctly and place them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area 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 sure the amount of storage you will require, they can help you in figuring it out, you will most likely really need twice the space you think.

Moving Day

Be sure to have a solid plan for moving day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend accompany your parents out for brunch, and then on to the new abode. You or a sibling stay behind to oversee the movers. Alleviate as much stress as you are able to that morning, so when the truck arrives your parents aren't tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and don't be surprised if they're invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and in high demand.

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