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 scale down in Oklahoma City, it can be challenging for the entire family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that stayed in one place—so tackling a move from a house that maintains decades of memories is hard for the whole family. However, there are some suggestions for a smooth transition, so take heart and keep reading.

Plan Ahead

In an ideal world, you have been privy to your parents’ health care and finances for several years before they scale down or move to a senior living community. If your world's not ideal and you do not have a clue, get informed on these two specific topics quickly, and keep up to date going forward. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial situation and be entirely uninformed as to their position. Asking your parents what their financial picture looks like is hard, but being blindsided when you find out your dad's “best friend” is that Nigerian prince living in the Tokyo airport and has taken all his money is harder.

Have the dialogues when there's no urgency, and your mother does not feel like you are pushing her to move from her house. The more you and your siblings can glean over lunch, the better off you'll all be when you must make decisions hurriedly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to be sure that you can help manage affairs if necessary and that you can get medical and health care records if there's an emergency. These two things are crucially important if you live more than a few hours away, as you may need to take care of things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your fourth-grade soccer teammate, without the proper paperwork in place, they cannot provide you any information.

What to Take?

For many families, selecting one sibling to be the point person for legal questions is a small concern compared to figuring out who is going to decide what belongings move to the new house, what is given to charity, and which sibling keeps the family china. Do not permit this create a family argument, your parents are moving and will most likely keep the china and silver. Anyway, most downsizes are accompanied by 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 lots 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's typically a waiting period of a few months before they actually make the move. Most communities remodel the units before a new resident moves in. If the prior resident had been there for a few years, they may do a full update—so you will commonly get items like new countertops and appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and carpet. These weeks offer your parents time to acclimate to the idea of moving, especially if they are going to a new area.

Ask for a copy of the floor plan of their new house 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 all about the paper, so you can play around with it until you find the best layout. This is a big help emotionally, understanding before you move any furniture what they can move with them and how it will conform to the space. Being around themselves with familiar belongings and mementos can take some of the sting out of leaving home.

Downsizing - MovingLeading up to Moving Day in Oklahoma City

Moving day for your parents will most likely be rough, even if you are very organized, and if they're willing to move out of the house and not have the yard anymore. Here is a timeline to prepare for the big day, giving you two months to get ready.

Two Months Out

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

Think about if you will need some storage, and where you want it to be. Many moving companies have storage options, which can be very useful. Some people aren't sure what will really work in the new space and wish to have a few extra choices before they make the ultimate . In addition, when college-age grandkids are around, some families opt to hang on to old couches and other items that will be of use in first apartments.

Commence deciding what you parents will take, what you and your siblings will divide up, and which items to give to charity. However you decide to divide up, you'll need to note what goes to whom. Assorted colored small sticky notes are a wonderful way to note things, so that the correct belongings end up arriving at the right residences.

Discuss with your parents on what to donate--although the concept of a moving sale is attractive, if money is not an issue, you'll most likely do better donating most stuff and taking the write-off. If they have valuable items, 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 pick-up your donations. Call a few days or so out to arrange pick up.

One Month Out

Commence cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more stuff than energy, hire a company to come clean out after you have moved everything that you want out of the home. This is well worth the cost, especially if you don’t live nearby and your parents are having a tough time with the move. You can also set up to have the moving company move the household goods and personal possessions before the balance of the home is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from seeing their residence looking empty and sad.

If you're doing your own packing, buy acceptable-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest cost and can provide packing tips. Again, take out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a system for keeping things in order. If everyone is local, it's simple to bring over some big tubs and be able to leave later with old stuffed animals and t-ball trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That's most of the time not the case, so as you box things up, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area of the living room.

One Week Out

Confirm your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new house and putting items in storage. If you're not positive how much storage you will need, they can help you in calculating, you will probably truly 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 breakfast, and then on to the new house. You or a sibling stay behind to handle the movers. Ease as much anxiety as you can that morning, so when the moving truck gets to their place your parents aren't tired and anxious. Help them unbox things and settle in, and don't be surprised if they're invited to dinner—they are the new kids on the block and in high demand.

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