Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition
If it’s time for your parents to downsize in Little Rock, it's difficult for the whole family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that that weren’t transient in nature—so tackling a move from a house that maintains over a quarter century of memories is tough for the entire family. However, there are some tips for the best way to navigate the transition, so don’t give up hope and keep reading.
In an ideal world, you've been kept updated 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 is not flawless and you do not know much about your parents’ matters, get informed on these two specific topics as soon as possible, and keep up to date in the future. You definitely don’t want to have a health or financial emergency and be totally in the dark 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 your parents’ money is tougher.
Have the dialogues when there isn’t imperativeness, and your mother does not feel like you are pressuring her to move from her residence. The more you and your siblings find out over breakfast, the better off you'll all be when you have to make decisions quickly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to make sure that you can help manage things if you need to and that you can access medical and health care records if there's an emergency. These two things are incredibly important if you live more than a few hours away, as you might need to handle things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your fourth-grade soccer teammate, without the proper paperwork in place, they can't provide you any information.
What to Take?
For lots of families, picking one sibling to be the main person for legal problems is nothing compared to figuring out who will decide what moves to the new residence, what is given to charity, and which sibling gets the family silver. Don't allow this start a family argument, your parents are moving and are likely going to hand onto the china and silver. Besides, 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 is a plethora of items to go around.
After your clan has made the decision that downsizing is best for your parents, if they will be moving to a retirement community, there is typically a waiting period of several months before they actually make the move. Most communities renovate the units before a new resident comes in. If the prior resident had been there for a few years, they could do a full update—so you'll commonly get things like new counters and kitchen appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and flooring. This delay offers your parents time to grow accustomed to the idea of moving, especially if they are going to a new area.
Obtain a print-out of the floor plan of their new home or apartment. Some retirement communities will provide 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 play decorator until you find the best layout. This is a big help emotionally, knowing 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 a little of the sting out of leaving home.
Leading up to Moving Day in Little Rock
Moving day for your parents is going to be tough, 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 brief agenda to prepare for the big day, giving you two months to get prep.
Two Months Out
Employ a professional moving company. Look at your budget to figure out if you want a full-service move, a la carte (pick and choose what services the movers do) or rent a moving van and do it yourself.
Figure out if you will require some 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 more options before they make the ultimate conclusion. In addition, when college-age grandchildren are present, some families elect to hang on to old couches and other things that will come in handy in first apartments.
Begin determining what you parents will take, what you and your siblings will divvy up, and what to donate. However you opt to split up, you'll need to note what goes to whom. Various colored small sticky notes are a great way to note things, so that the right belongings wind up going to the right destinations.
Work with your parents on what to give to charity--although the idea of a yard sale is tempting, if money is not a concern, you will likely do better donating most stuff and taking the write-off. If they have valuable belongings, ask a local antiques dealer to appraise them prior to donating. Some charities, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, can even send a truck to get your donated items. 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 have more belongings than motivation, appoint a company to come clean out after 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 tough time with the move. You can also set up to have the moving company take the household goods and personal things before the remainder of the home is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their house looking empty and sad.
If you are performing your own packing, purchase good-quality packing supplies. The moving company will offer the best quality at the lowest prices and can provide packing suggestions. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a system for keeping them in order. If everyone is nearby, it is easy to bring over some big boxes and leave a couple hours later with old stuffed animals and t-ball trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That is usually not the case, so as you box things up, label them accordingly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a labeled area of the living room.
One Week Out
Confirm your plans with the moving company, both for the move to the new home and taking things to storage. If you're not sure how much storage you will require, they can help you in calculating, you will most likely actually need twice the space you think.
Plan a two-prong strategy for this day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend take your parents out for breakfast, and then on to the new abode. You or a sibling stay behind to manage the movers. Mitigate as much stress as you can that morning, so when the moving van gets to their place your parents aren't tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and don't be surprised if they are already invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and in high demand.
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