Parents Downsizing? A Guide to A Smooth Transition
When it’s time for your parents to downsize in Little Rock, it can be difficult for the whole family. Baby boomers are the last generation of Americans that that weren’t transient in nature—so undertaking a move from a home that holds over a quarter century of memories is rough for the entire family. But, there are some strategies for making the transition as easy as possible, so take a deep breath and read on.
In a flawless world, you have been in the loop on your parents’ health care and finances for a couple years prior to when they scale down or move to a senior living community. If your world's not flawless and you don't have a clue, get informed on these two specific topics quickly, and stay up to date going forward. The last thing you want is to have a health or financial situation and be completely in the dark as to their position. Asking your parents for information about their finances is tough, but being blindsided when you find out your dad's “long-lost cousin” is that Nigerian prince living in the Tokyo airport and has taken all his money is tougher.
Have the talks when there is no rush, and your mom does not feel like you are forcing her out of her home. The more you and your siblings find out over the dinner table, the better off you'll all be when you have to make rulings expeditiously. Convene with their attorneys and doctors to be sure that you can assist in managing affairs if you need to and that you can get medical and health care reports if there is an emergency. These two things are vitally important if you are more than one or two hours away, as you may need to manage things remotely. HIPAA states that even if your mom's doctor was your fourth-grade t-ball buddy, without the right permissions in writing, they cannot provide you any information.
What to Take?
For lots of families, picking one sibling to be the point person for legal problems pales in comparison to determining who gets to choose what belongings move to the new residence, what will be donated, and which sibling keeps the family silver. Do not allow this create a family argument, your parents are moving and will most likely keep the china and silver. In any case, most downsizes mean 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 things to go around.
Once your clan has come to the conclusion that downsizing is best for your parents, if they will be heading to a senior community, there's typically a waiting period of a couple months prior to being able to move in. Most communities renovate the units prior to when a new resident comes in. If the prior resident had lived there for many years, they might do a full update—so you will usually get things like new kitchen counters and kitchen appliances, Wi-Fi, and updated bathroom fixtures along with fresh paint and flooring. This delay offers your parents time to acclimate to the idea 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 around the paper, so you can play decorator until you find the layout that you like best. This is a huge help emotionally, realizing prior to moving day what they can move with them and how it will conform to the space. Surrounding themselves with familiar furniture 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 will most likely be tough, even if you have planned everything to the last detail, and however much they're willing to give up the house and not have the yard anymore. Here is a short schedule to get ready for the big day, giving you two months to get gear up.
Two Months Out
Select a professional moving company. Work with your budget to figure out if you would like a full-service move, a la carte (select only certain services the movers do) or obtain a moving truck and do it yourself.
Think about if you'll require short term storage, and where it should be located. Many moving companies provide storage options, which can be very useful. Some people aren't sure what will really work in the new space and would like to have a few extra options before they make the ultimate conclusion. Also, when college-age kids are in the mix, some families prefer to store old furniture and other items that will be of use in first apartments.
Begin deciding what they can take, which items you and your siblings will divvy up, and what to give to charity. However you opt to divvy up, you'll need to indicate what goes to whom. Different colored small sticky notes are a wonderful way to sort things, so that the right things end up going to the correct destinations.
Be flexible with your parents on what to donate--although the thought of a garage sale is tempting, if money is not a concern, you'll probably 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 donate. Some non-profits, like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, will even dispatch a truck to pick-up your donated things. 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've got more belongings than ambition, employ a company to come clean out after you've gotten everything that you want out of the home. This is definitely worth the cost, especially if you don’t live nearby and your parents are having a difficult time with the move. You can also set up to have the moving company take the household goods and personal possessions before the remainder of the residence is cleared out, sparing your mom and dad from viewing their home looking empty and sad.
If you're performing your own packing, get decent-quality moving supplies. The moving company will carry the best quality at the lowest cost and can offer packing suggestions. Again, bring out the sticky notes for the boxes or have a system for keeping everything in order. If all of the siblings are closeby, it's simple to bring over some big boxes and be able to leave later with old stuffed animals and diving trophies all packed up in your vehicle. That is usually not the case, so as you pack boxes, label them accordingly and put them in the recipient's bedroom or stake out corners 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 are not sure the space of storage you'll require, they can assist you in calculating, you will probably really need twice the space you think.
Make sure you have discussed everyone’s roles for moving day. Have one sibling, grandchild or friend accompany your parents out for brunch, and then on to the new abode. You or a sibling stay behind to handle the movers. Mitigate as much stress as you are able to that morning, so when the moving van arrives your parents are not tired and anxious. Help them get unpacked and settled, and do not be shocked if they are already invited to dinner—they're the new kids on the block and everyone will want to meet them.
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