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 in the loop on your parents’ health care and finances for a few years prior to when they scale down or move to a senior living community. If your world's not perfect and you do not have a clue, get informed on these two imperative items 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 entirely uninformed as to their condition. 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 tougher.

Have the conversations when there isn’t urgency, and your mom doesn't feel like you’re pressuring her to sell her residence. The more you and your siblings discover over the dinner table, the better off you will all be when you need to make decisions rapidly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to be 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 crucially important if you're more than a few hours away, as you might need to manage things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your second-grade soccer teammate, without the proper paperwork in place, they can't provide you any information.

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 discern what moves to the new house, what is given to charity, and which sibling keeps the family china. Do not permit this start a family fight, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto the china and silver. In any case, most downsizes mean 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 made the decision 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 prior to being able to move in. Most communities remodel the units prior to when 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 idea of moving, especially if they are moving to a new town.

Obtain a print-out of the floor plan of their new home 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 around the paper, so you can change it up until you get it just right. This is a enormous help emotionally, knowing ahead of time 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 is going to be difficult, even if you are very organized, and however much they're glad to vacate the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here is a timeline leading up to the big day, giving you two 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 truck and do it yourself.

Decide if you will require short term storage, and where it should be located. Most moving companies provide 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 . Also, when college-age kids are around, some families prefer to store old furniture and stuff that will come in handy in first apartments.

Begin deciding what they will take, which items you and your siblings want, and which belongings to give to charity. However you opt to divide 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 items end up going to the correct destinations.

Discuss with your parents on what to give to charity--although the concept of a moving sale is attractive, 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 non-profits, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, will even dispatch a truck to collect your donated things. 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 stuff 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 tough 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 residence is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their home looking empty and lonely.

If you are performing your own packing, get good-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest cost and can give packing tips. Again, bring 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 boxes and leave a couple hours later with old yearbooks and swim team trophies all packed up in the car. That's many times not the case, so as you pack boxes, label them accordingly and put them in the recipient's bedroom or a designated corner of the living room.

One Week Out

Double-check your plans with the moving company, both for the move to the new residence and putting items in 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. Mitigate as much stress as you can that morning, so when the moving van arrives your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and 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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