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 whole family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that didn’t move around much—so undertaking a move from a house that keeps decades of memories is rough for the whole family. However, there are some tips for a smooth transition, so take heart 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 ideal and you don't know much about your parents’ matters, get up to speed with these two specific 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 in the dark 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 to move from her residence. The more you and your siblings discover over the dinner table, the better off you will all be when you have to make choices 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 could need to take care of things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your third-grade t-ball buddy, without that paper trail, they can't provide you any information.

What to Take?

For many families, picking one sibling to be the point person for legal issues pales in comparison to determining who gets to discern what belongings move to the new home, what is given to charity, and which sibling gets the family silver. Don't let this create a family rift, your parents are moving and will likely keep the china and silver. Anyway, most downsizes come with 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 the way to go for your parents, if they will be heading 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 before 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. The time offers your parents time to grow accustomed to the thought of moving, especially if they are moving to a new area.

Ask for 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 decorator until you find the layout that you like best. This is a enormous help emotionally, understanding prior to moving day 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 rough, even if you are very organized, and if they're willing to vacate the house and not have to deal with the yard anymore. Here's a timeline to get ready for the big day, giving you two months to get ready.

Two Months Out

Employ a professional moving company. Think about 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 short term storage, and where it should be located. Many moving companies have storage options, which can be very useful. It’s not uncommon for people to want to have a few extra alternatives before they make the ultimate determination. In addition, when college-age kids are present, some families prefer to hang on to old chairs and other things that will come in handy in first apartments.

Commence thinking about what you parents will take, which items you and your siblings want, and which belongings to give to charity. However you opt to split up, you will need to note what goes to whom. Various colored small sticky notes are a wonderful way to keep track, so that the right things wind up arriving at the correct places.

Work 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 charities, 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 schedule pick up.

One Month Out

Commence 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 definitely worth the charge, especially if you don’t live nearby 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 everything in order. If all of the family is closeby, it's 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 is many times not the case, so as you pack up the boxes, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area of the living room.

One Week Out

Double-check your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new home and putting items in 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 worry as you can that morning, so when the moving truck arrives 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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