Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition

by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group

Moving - Parents MovingIf it is time for your parents to scale down in Denver, it's difficult for the total 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 keeps over a quarter century of memories is rough for the entire family. However, there are some strategies for making the transition as easy as possible, so take a deep breath and keep reading.

Plan Ahead

In an ideal world, you have been privy to your parents’ health care and finances for several years prior to when they scale down or move to a senior living community. If your world's not perfect and you do not know much about your parents’ matters, get information on these two specific topics as soon as possible, and stay up to date going forward. You definitely don’t want to have a health or financial situation and be totally uninformed as to their position. Asking your parents for information about their finances is tough, but being surprised when you find out your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has stolen all his money is more difficult.

Have the conversations when there's no urgency, and your mom doesn't feel like you’re forcing her to sell her home. The more you and your siblings find out over the dinner table, the better off you will all be when you must make decisions rapidly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to make sure that you can aid in managing affairs if you need to 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 a few hours away, as you could need to manage things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your second-grade cubby buddy, without that paper trail, they can't tell you anything.

What to Take?

For a lot of families, appointing one sibling to be the person in charge of legal problems is nothing compared to determining who is going to choose which items move to the new house, what gets donated, and which sibling keeps the family china. Do not permit this commence a family fight, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto 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 stuff to go around.

Once your clan has come to the conclusion that downsizing is right for your parents, if they will be moving to a senior community, there's normally a waiting period of a couple months before they actually make the move. Most communities remodel the units before a new resident comes in. If the prior resident had been there for a few years, they may do a full update—so you will normally get items like new counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom components 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 area.

Obtain 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 a sheet of adhesive peel-off furniture stickers so you can actually place the furniture and accessories. The stickers can be moved on the paper, so you can change it up until you get it just right. This is a big help emotionally, knowing prior to moving day what they can move 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 Denver

Moving day for your parents will probably be difficult, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and however much they're willing to give up the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here is a timeline to get ready for the big day, giving you a couple of months to get ready.

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 (select only certain services the movers do) or rent a moving truck and do it yourself.

Decide if you will require any storage, and where it should be located. Most moving companies have storage options, which can be very convenient. It’s not uncommon for people to wish to have a few extra alternatives before they make the final decision. In addition, when college-age kids are around, some families prefer to store old furniture and stuff that will be of use in first apartments.

Begin deciding what they will take, which items you and your siblings want, and which items to give to charity. However you opt to divvy up, you'll want to designate what goes to whom. Various colored small sticky notes are a great way to note things, so that the right belongings end up going to the correct places.

Discuss with your parents on what to give to charity--although the thought of a yard sale is inviting, if money is not a concern, you will most likely do better donating most things and taking the write-off. If they have valuable belongings, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them prior to donating. Some charities, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, will even dispatch a truck to collect your donated items. Call a few days or so out to arrange pick up.

One Month Out

Start cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more belongings than motivation, appoint a company to come clean out after you have moved everything that you want out of the house. This is well worth the cost, especially if you're 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 belongings before the rest of the home is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their home looking empty and lonely.

If you are performing your own packing, get decent-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest cost and can give packing tips. Again, take out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a plan for keeping everything in order. If all of the siblings are local, it is ideal to bring over some big tubs and leave a couple hours later with old prom dresses and swim team trophies all packed up in the car. That's most of the time not the case, so as you box things up, label them accordingly and put them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area of the living room.

One Week Out

Verify your plans with the moving company, both for the move to the new residence and taking things to storage. If you are not sure the space of storage you will need, they can assist you in calculating, you will probably 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 take your parents out for breakfast, and then on to the new house. You or a sibling stay behind to manage the movers. Ease as much stress as you can that morning, so when the moving truck pulls up your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them unpack and get settled, and do not be surprised if they are already invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and everyone will want to meet them.

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