Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition
If it’s time for your parents to scale down in Austin, it is 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 tips for a smooth transition, so take heart and keep reading.
In a perfect world, you have been in the loop on 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 know much about your parents’ matters, get informed on these two imperative items quickly, and keep up to date going forward. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial emergency and be totally 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 stolen all his money is harder.
Have the talks when there isn’t 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 need to make decisions hurriedly. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to be sure that you can help manage affairs if necessary and that you can obtain medical and health care records if there's an emergency. These two things are crucially important if you are more than a few hours away, as you may need to manage things remotely. HIPAA maintains that even if your mom's doctor was your third-grade cubby buddy, without the proper paperwork in place, they cannot provide you any information.
What to Take?
For many families, selecting one sibling to be the main person for legal questions is a small concern compared to working 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 fight, 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 the way to go for your parents, if they will be going to a senior community, there's typically a waiting period of a couple months before they actually make the move. Most communities refurbish the units prior to when 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 town.
Obtain 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.
Leading up to Moving Day in Austin
Moving day for your parents will most likely be rough, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, 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 a couple of months to get ready.
Two Months Out
Hire 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 rent a truck and do it yourself.
Think about if you will need some storage, and where you want it to be. The majority of moving companies have storage options, which can be very helpful. 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 decision. In addition, when college-age grandkids are around, some families opt to hold on to old couches and other items that will come in handy 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 good way to note things, so that the correct items end up arriving at the right residences.
Discuss with your parents on what to donate--although the concept of a yard sale is inviting, if money is not an issue, you'll most likely do better donating most stuff 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 direct a truck to get your donations. Call a few days or so out to arrange pick up.
One Month Out
Begin cleaning out cabinets, closets, the basement, garage, etc. If you have more stuff than ambition, hire a company to come clean out after you have moved everything that you want out of the residence. This is well worth the cost, especially if you live out of town 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 things before the remainder of the residence is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from seeing their residence looking empty and sad.
If you're doing your own packing, purchase 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 boxes and pull out of the driveway an hour later with old stuffed animals and diving trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That's many times not the case, so as you pack boxes, label them correctly and set them in the recipient's bedroom or a designated corner of the living room.
One Week Out
Confirm your dates with the moving company, both for the move to the new house and taking things to storage. If you're not positive the amount of storage you will need, they can help you in calculating, you will probably truly need double the space you think.
Be sure to have a solid plan for moving 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. Mitigate as much anxiety as you can that morning, so when the moving van 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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