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 Tulsa, it is challenging for the entire family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that didn’t move around much—so dealing with a move from a house that keeps decades of memories is hard for the whole family. However, there are some suggestions for making the transition as easy as possible, so don’t give up hope and keep reading.

Plan Ahead

In a flawless world, you have been kept updated on your parents’ health care and finances for a couple years before they downsize or move to a senior living community. If your world's not flawless and you don't have a clue, get up to speed with these two imperative items as soon as possible, and stay up to date going forward. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial crisis and be entirely unaware as to their situation. Asking your parents for information about their finances is tough, but being blindsided when you discover your dad's “best friend” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has gotten all your parents’ money is harder.

Have the conversations when there's no rush, and your mom doesn't feel like you’re pushing her out of her residence. The more you and your siblings find out over the dinner table, the better off you will all be when you have to make rulings hurriedly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to be sure that you can assist in managing affairs if you need to and that you can access medical and health care reports if there is an emergency. These two things are crucially important if you live more than one or two hours away, as you might need to manage things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your fourth-grade t-ball buddy, without the proper paperwork in place, they can't tell you anything.

What to Take?

For many families, picking one sibling to be the point person for legal questions pales in comparison to determining who gets to discern what belongings move to the new home, what gets donated, and which sibling gets the family silver. Don't allow this create a family rift, your parents are moving and will likely keep the china and silver. Anyway, most downsizes mean a significant loss of space—going from a three or four-bedroom house to one or two bedrooms and one living space--so there's a plethora of things to go around.

After your clan has determined that downsizing is best for your parents, if they will be going to a retirement community, there is typically a waiting period of several months before their unit is ready for them. Most communities remodel the units prior to when a new resident comes in. If the prior resident had lived there for a few years, they could do a full update—so you will normally get things like new countertops and kitchen appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and carpet. This delay offers your parents time to adjust to the thought of moving, especially if they are moving to a new town.

Obtain a copy 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 pieces can be moved all about the paper, so you can play around with it until you find the best layout. This is a enormous help emotionally, understanding ahead of time what they can move with them and how it will conform to the space. Surrounding themselves with familiar things and mementos can take some of the sting out of leaving home.

Downsizing - MovingLeading up to Moving Day in Tulsa

Moving day for your parents will most likely be difficult, even if you are very organized, and if they're glad to give up the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here's a timeline leading up to the big day, giving you two months to get ready.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Work with your budget to decide if you would like a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or obtain a moving truck and do it yourself.

Think about if you will require any storage, and where it should be located. The majority of moving companies have storage options, which can be very useful. It’s not uncommon for people to would like to have a few extra alternatives before they make the ultimate determination. In addition, when college-age kids are in the mix, some families elect to hang on to old couches and other items that will be of use in first apartments.

Begin deciding what you parents will take, which items you and your siblings will divvy up, and which items to give to charity. However you prefer to split up, you will need to note what goes to whom. Assorted colored small sticky notes are a good way to keep track, so that the right things wind up arriving at the correct places.

Be flexible with your parents on what to give to charity--although the idea of a yard sale is tempting, if money is not an issue, you will probably do better donating most things and taking the write-off. If they have valuable belongings, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them before you donate. 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

Begin clearing out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you've got more house than motivation, appoint a company to come clean out after you have moved everything that you want out of the residence. This is positively worth the charge, especially if you live out of town and your parents are having a hard time with the move. You can also arrange to have the moving company move the household goods and personal belongings before the balance of the house is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their home looking empty and sad.

If you are performing your own packing, purchase acceptable-quality moving supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest cost and can provide packing tips. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a system for keeping them in order. If all of the family is closeby, it's 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 is most of the time not the case, so as you pack up the boxes, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a designated corner of the living room.

One Week Out

Verify your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new residence and taking things to storage. If you're not positive how much storage you will need, they can assist you in figuring it out, you will most likely really need double the space you think.

Moving Day

Plan a two-prong strategy for this day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend accompany your parents out for brunch, and then on to their new abode. You or a sibling stay behind to manage the movers. Alleviate as much anxiety as you can that morning, so when the moving van pulls up your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and don't be shocked if they're invited to dinner—they are the new kids on the block and in high demand.

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