Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition
If it is time for your parents to scale down in Denver, it is difficult for the entire family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that stayed in one place—so dealing with a move from a home that keeps decades of memories is tough for the whole family. But, there are some tips for making the transition as easy as possible, so don’t give up hope and keep reading.
In an ideal world, you've been in the loop on your parents’ health care and finances for several years prior to when they downsize or move to a senior living community. If your world's not perfect and you don't have any idea about your parents’ finances or medical status, get informed on these two crucial components as soon as possible, and keep up to date going forward. It would be very unfortunate to have a health or financial situation and be completely unaware as to their condition. Asking your parents for information about their finances is tough, but being blindsided when you learn your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has taken all his money is harder.
Have the dialogues when there isn’t rush, and your mom does not feel like you’re forcing her to move from her home. The more you and your siblings can glean over lunch, the better off you will all be when you need to make rulings hurriedly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to make sure that you can assist in managing things if needed and that you can get medical and health care reports if there's an emergency. These two items are incredibly important if you live more than a couple of hours away, as you might need to take care of things remotely. HIPAA states that even if your mom's doctor was your second-grade soccer teammate, without the proper paperwork in place, they can't tell you anything.
What to Take?
For many families, picking one sibling to be the main person for legal problems is nothing compared to working out who gets to choose what belongings move to the new residence, what is given to charity, and which sibling gets the family china. Do not let this commence a family argument, 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 is plenty of items to go around.
After your family has made the decision that downsizing is best for your parents, if they will be moving to a senior community, there is typically a waiting period of several months prior to being able to move in. Most communities refurbish the units prior to when a new resident comes in. If the prior resident had been there for several years, they might do a whole 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 grow accustomed to the thought of moving, especially if they are moving to a new city.
Obtain a copy of the floor plan of their new house 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 all about the floor plan, so you can play around with it until you find the layout that you like best. This is a huge help emotionally, understanding ahead of time what they can move 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.
Leading up to Moving Day in Denver
Moving day for your parents will probably be tough, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and however much they're glad to move out of the house and not have the yard anymore. Here is a brief agenda to get ready for the big day, giving you two months 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 will require any storage, and where you want it to be. Many moving companies furnish storage options, which can be very useful. Some people aren't sure what will really work in the new space and want to have a few extra choices before they make the final . As well, when college-age grandkids are around, some families prefer to hang on to old couches and other things that will be of use in first apartments.
Start thinking about what you parents will take, what you and your siblings will divvy up, and which items to donate. However you opt to divvy up, you'll need to indicate what goes to whom. Assorted colored small sticky notes are a wonderful 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 concept of a garage sale is attractive, if money is not a concern, you'll probably do better donating most stuff and taking the write-off. If they have valuable things, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them before you donate. Some non-profits, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, will even send a truck to get your donated items. Call a week or so out to arrange pick up.
One Month Out
Begin cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more stuff than energy, employ a company to come clean out after you have moved everything that you want out of the residence. This is definitely worth the money, especially if you live out of town and your parents are having a difficult time with the move. You can also arrange to have the moving company move the household goods and personal things before the rest of the house is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from seeing their residence looking empty and sad.
If you are doing your own packing, get decent-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 things in order. If all of the siblings are local, it's simple to bring over some big boxes and be able to leave later with old yearbooks and t-ball trophies all packed up in the car. That's most of the time not the case, so as you box things up, label them correctly and place them in the recipient's bedroom or stake out corners of the living room.
One Week Out
Verify your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new residence and putting items in storage. If you're not sure the space of storage you'll need, they can assist you in figuring it out, you will probably really need double the space you think.
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. Mitigate as much stress as you can that morning, so when the truck gets to their place your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and don't be surprised if they are already invited to dinner—they are the new kids on the block and in high demand.
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