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 scale down in Colorado Springs, it is tough on the total family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that that weren’t transient in nature—so undertaking a move from a home that holds over a quarter century of memories is rough for the whole family. However, there are some suggestions for a smooth transition, so take a deep breath and read on.

Plan Ahead

In a perfect world, you have been in the loop on your parents’ health care and finances for a couple years before they downsize or move to a senior living community. If your world is not flawless and you do not know much about your parents’ matters, get up to speed with these two imperative items quickly, and stay up to date going forward. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial emergency and be totally unaware as to their condition. Questioning your parents about their finances is difficult, but being surprised when you discover your dad's “best friend” is that Nigerian prince living in the Tokyo airport and has gotten all your parents’ money is more difficult.

Have the talks when there isn’t imperativeness, and your mother does not feel like you are pressuring her to move from her residence. The more you and your siblings can glean over lunch, the better off you'll all be when you need to make rulings hurriedly. Meet with their attorneys and doctors to ensure that you can aid in managing affairs if needed and that you can get medical and health care records if there is an emergency. These two things are incredibly important if you're 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 t-ball buddy, without the right permissions in writing, they cannot provide you any information.

What to Take?

For lots of families, selecting one sibling to be the person in charge of legal questions is nothing compared to determining who is going to decide which items move to the new residence, what is given to charity, and which sibling gets the family china. Do not allow this commence a family argument, your parents are moving and will likely keep 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 made the decision that downsizing is right for your parents, if they will be heading to a retirement community, there's usually a waiting period of a few months before their unit is ready for them. Most communities renovate the units before a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had lived there for many years, they could do a full update—so you will normally get things like new counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and flooring. This delay offers your parents time to acclimate to the plan of moving, especially if they are moving to a new area.

Ask for a print-out of the floor plan of their new home 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 pieces can be moved all about the paper, so you can play decorator until you get it just right. This is a big help emotionally, knowing ahead of time what they can take with them and how it will conform to 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 Colorado Springs

Moving day for your parents is going to be difficult, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and if they are ready to vacate the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here's a short schedule to prepare for the big day, giving you two months to get gear up.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Look at your budget to decide if you want a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or rent a 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 helpful. Some people aren't sure what will really work in the new space and would like to have a few more options before they make the ultimate conclusion. As well, when college-age grandkids are around, some families prefer to hold on to old chairs and other things that will come in handy in first apartments.

Begin determining what they will take, what you and your siblings will divvy up, and what to donate. However you decide to divide up, you will want to indicate what goes to whom. Various colored small sticky notes are a good way to keep track, so that the right items end up arriving at the right residences.

Work with your parents on what to give to charity--although the concept of a garage sale is attractive, if money is not a concern, you'll likely do better donating most things and taking the write-off. If they have valuable items, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them prior to donating. Some charities, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, will even send a truck to get your donated things. Call a week or so out to arrange pick up.

One Month Out

Start clearing out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more stuff than energy, hire a company to come clean out after you've moved everything that you want out of the residence. This is definitely worth the charge, especially if you live out of town and your parents are having a tough time with the move. You can also plan to have the moving company move the household goods and personal belongings before the remainder of the home is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from seeing their home looking empty and lonely.

If you are performing your own packing, buy acceptable-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest prices and can give packing guidance. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a plan for keeping them in order. If all of the family is nearby, 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 the car. That's usually not the case, so as you pack boxes, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area of the living room.

One Week Out

Confirm your plans with the moving company, both for the move to the new residence and moving to storage. If you're not positive the amount of storage you'll need, they can assist you in figuring it out, you will most likely truly need double 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 breakfast, and then on to the new abode. You or a sibling stay behind to oversee the movers. Alleviate as much worry as you can that morning, so when the truck pulls up your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and 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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