Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition

by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
 

Moving - Parents MovingIf it’s time for your parents to downsize in Atlanta, 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 home that holds decades of memories is tough for the whole family. But, there are some suggestions for a smooth transition, so take a deep breath and read on.

Plan Ahead

In an ideal world, you have 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 flawless and you do not know much about your parents’ matters, get information on these two imperative items quickly, and keep up to date moving forward. You definitely don’t want to have a health or financial situation and be entirely unaware as to their situation. Asking your parents what their financial picture looks like is hard, but being surprised when you find out your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince stuck in the Tokyo airport and has gotten all your parents’ money is tougher.

Have the dialogues when there's no urgency, and your mom doesn't feel like you are pushing her to sell her house. The more you and your siblings find out over lunch, the better off you will all be when you need to make rulings quickly. Meet with their attorneys and doctors to make sure that you can aid in managing affairs if you need to and that you can get medical and health care information if there's an emergency. These two items are vitally important if you live more than a couple of hours away, as you may need to take care of things remotely. HIPAA states that even if your mom's doctor was your third-grade t-ball buddy, without that paper trail, they can't tell you anything.

What to Take?

For many families, picking one sibling to be the main person for legal issues is a small concern compared to determining who gets to choose which items move to the new house, what will be donated, and which sibling gets the family silver. Don't let this create a family fight, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto the china and silver. In any event, 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 items to go around.

After your clan has determined that downsizing is best for your parents, if they will be going to a senior community, there is usually a waiting period of a few 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 could do a complete update—so you'll commonly get items like new counters and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and flooring. This delay offers your parents time to acclimate to the thought of moving, especially if they are going to a new area.

Get a print-out of the floor plan of their new house or apartment. Some retirement communities will give 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 change it up until you find the layout that you like best. This is a enormous help emotionally, realizing before you move any furniture what they can take with them and how it will fit in the space. Being around themselves with familiar furniture and mementos can take a little of the sting out of leaving home.

Downsizing - MovingLeading up to Moving Day in Atlanta

Moving day for your parents is going to be tough, even if you are very organized, and if they're ready to vacate 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

Hire a professional moving company. Think about your budget to figure out if you would like a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or get a moving van and do it yourself.

Decide if you'll require some storage, and where it should be located. Most moving companies furnish storage options, which can be very convenient. Some people aren't sure what will really work in the new space and wish to have a few extra options before they make the ultimate conclusion. Also, when college-age kids are around, some families prefer to store old chairs and other items that could be used in first apartments.

Commence determining what you parents can take, which things you and your siblings want, and which belongings to donate. However you decide to split up, you'll want to designate what goes to whom. Various colored small sticky notes are a great way to keep track, so that the correct items wind up arriving at the correct residences.

Discuss with your parents on what to give to charity--although the concept of a garage sale is tempting, if money is not a concern, you'll most likely do better donating most items and taking the write-off. If they have valuable belongings, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them before you give them to a charity. Some organizations, 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 arrange pick up.

One Month Out

Start clearing out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more house than energy, appoint a company to come clean out once you've gotten everything that you want out of the house. This is positively worth the money, especially if you're out of town and your parents are having a difficult time with the move. You can also plan to have the moving company load up the household goods and personal possessions before the balance 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, purchase decent-quality moving supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest cost and can give packing suggestions. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a system for keeping things in order. If all of the family is local, it's ideal to bring over some big tubs and leave a couple hours later with old yearbooks and diving trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That is many times not the case, so as you box things up, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a designated corner of the living room.

One Week Out

Double-check your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new house and putting items in storage. If you're not sure the space of storage you'll require, they can help you in calculating, you will most likely really need double the space you think.

Moving Day

Be sure to have a solid plan for moving day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend accompany your parents out for brunch, and then on to the new home. 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 unpack and get settled, and don't be surprised if they're invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and in high demand.

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