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 Houston, it can be 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 house that holds over a quarter century of memories is hard for the entire family. But, there are some tips for a smooth transition, so take heart and keep reading.

Plan Ahead

In a perfect world, you've been kept updated on your parents’ health care and finances for a few years before they downsize or move to a senior living community. If your world is not perfect and you do not have a clue, get informed on these two crucial components as soon as possible, and keep up to date in the future. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial crisis and be totally unaware as to their situation. Questioning your parents about their finances is difficult, but being blindsided when you learn your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince living in the Tokyo airport and has stolen all his money is harder.

Have the dialogues when there is no urgency, and your mother doesn't feel like you are pushing her out of her home. The more you and your siblings find out over lunch, the better off you'll all be when you need to make decisions rapidly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to be sure that you can assist in managing things if necessary and that you can access medical and health care records if there is an emergency. These two items are vitally important if you're more than one or two hours away, as you may need to take care of things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your third-grade cubby buddy, without the right permissions in writing, they can't provide you any information.

What to Take?

For lots of families, appointing one sibling to be the main person for legal questions pales in comparison to working out who will discern what moves to the new house, what will be donated, and which sibling gets the family china. Do not allow this start a family fight, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto the china and silver. In any event, most downsizes come with 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 lots of items to go around.

After your clan has made the decision that downsizing is the way to go for your parents, if they will be going to a senior community, there is typically a waiting period of several months before they actually make the move. Most communities remodel the units prior to when a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had been there for several years, they may do a whole update—so you'll normally get items like new countertops and kitchen appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and flooring. The time offers your parents time to acclimate to the thought of moving, especially if they are going to a new town.

Get a print-out of the floor plan of their new abode or apartment. Some retirement communities will hand you not only a floor plan, but some peel-off furniture stickers so you can actually place the furniture and accessories. The pieces can be moved all about the paper, so you can change it up until you find the layout that you like best. This is a huge help emotionally, understanding prior to moving day what they can take with them and how it will take up 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 Houston

Moving day for your parents is going to be tough, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and however much they are glad to move out of the house and not have the yard anymore. Here's a brief agenda to get ready for the big day, giving you about eight weeks to get ready.

Two Months Out

Select a professional moving company. Think about your budget to determine if you would like a full-service move, a la carte (select only certain services the movers do) or get a moving truck and do it yourself.

Decide if you'll need any storage, and where you want it to be. The majority of moving companies furnish storage options, which can be very useful. It’s not uncommon for people to want to have a few extra alternatives before they make the ultimate decision. Also, when college-age kids are present, some families elect to hold on to old furniture and stuff that will be of use in first apartments.

Start thinking about what they will move, which things you and your siblings will divide up, and which belongings to donate. However you opt to divide up, you will need to designate what goes to whom. Different colored small sticky notes are a good way to keep track, so that the correct items wind up going to the right residences.

Discuss with your parents on what to give to charity--although the thought of a garage sale is attractive, if cash flow is not a concern, you will probably do better donating most items and taking the write-off. If they have valuable belongings, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them prior to donating. Some non-profits, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, can even send a truck to collect your donations. 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, appoint a company to come clean out once 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 difficult time with the move. You can also set up to have the moving company take the household goods and personal belongings before the remainder of the house is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from seeing their house looking empty and sad.

If you're doing your own packing, get good-quality moving supplies. The moving company will have the best quality at the lowest prices and can offer packing tips. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a plan for keeping them in order. If all of the family is local, it's ideal to bring over some big boxes and be able to leave later with old prom dresses and swim team trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That is most of the time not the case, so as you box things up, label them correctly and put them in the recipient's bedroom or a designated corner of the living room.

One Week Out

Confirm your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new home and moving to storage. If you are not positive how much storage you will require, they can help you in calculating, you will probably truly 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 their new house. You or a sibling stay behind to handle the movers. Ease as much worry as you can that morning, so when the moving truck pulls up your parents aren't tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and do not be shocked if they're invited to dinner—they are the new kids on the block and in high demand.

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