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 whole 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 suggestions for making the transition as easy as possible, so take heart and read on.

Plan Ahead

In a perfect world, you have been privy to 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 don't have a clue, 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 situation and be entirely unaware as to their condition. Asking your parents for information about their finances is tough, but being surprised when you discover your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has taken all your parents’ money is more difficult.

Have the dialogues when there is no urgency, and your mom does not feel like you’re pushing her to move from her house. The more you and your siblings find out over lunch, the better off you'll all be when you need to make rulings rapidly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to ensure that you can aid in managing things if you need to and that you can get 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 second-grade cubby buddy, without the proper paperwork in place, they can't disclose any information to you.

What to Take?

For a lot of families, selecting one sibling to be the main person for legal questions pales in comparison to working out who is going to choose what moves to the new house, what will be donated, and which sibling gets the family china. Don't allow this start a family rift, your parents are moving and will likely keep the china and silver. In any case, most downsizes mean 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 lots 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 typically a waiting period of a couple months prior to being able to move in. Most communities remodel the units before a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had been there for several years, they might do a whole update—so you'll normally get items like new kitchen counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and carpet. This delay offers your parents time to grow accustomed to the thought of moving, especially if they are moving to a new city.

Ask for a copy of the floor plan of their new house or apartment. Some retirement communities will provide 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 around the paper, so you can play around with it until you find the layout that you like best. 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 belongings 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're ready to move out of the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here is a short schedule leading up to the big day, giving you two months to get gear up.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Think about 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 moving 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 would like to have a few extra alternatives before they make the ultimate . Also, when college-age grandchildren are in the mix, some families elect to hold on to old furniture and other things that will be of use in first apartments.

Start thinking about what you parents can take, which things 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. Various colored small sticky notes are a great way to sort things, so that the correct things end up arriving at the correct places.

Work with your parents on what to donate--although the idea of a yard sale is inviting, if money is not a concern, you'll most likely do better donating most stuff 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 send a truck to get your donated items. Call a week or so out to schedule pick up.

One Month Out

Commence cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you've got more stuff than motivation, hire 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 move the household goods and personal things before the balance of the home is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their residence looking empty and lonely.

If you're performing your own packing, purchase 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 put them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area of the living room.

One Week Out

Verify your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new home and taking things to storage. If you are not sure how much 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

Plan a two-prong strategy for this day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend accompany your parents out for brunch, and then on to the new home. 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 pulls up your parents aren't tired and anxious. Help them unpack and get 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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