The Challenge of “Right-Sizing”

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 4.26.04 PMOur housing needs change throughout our lives and we continually move to homes that fit those needs. We have roommates in small college dorm rooms. We live in studios that seem luxurious by comparison after we graduate. We get married and move into larger apartments or starter homes. As our families grow, larger houses are needed. But then those houses become empty as children start lives of their own – and it’s time to find a new, smaller “right sized” home again. For many people, the thought of leaving that big empty house, with so many happy memories associated with it, is difficult to accept. And many times, it is the children who help the parents mentally prepare for and embrace the change when maintaining the large house is no longer an option. Obviously, helping parents move is stressful, but with proper planning, there are ways to alleviate some of that stress. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Help your parents determine where they want to move. Consider how close each option is to family, friends, support groups, and entertainment. Find out how safe the area is and how easy it is to get around – will your parents need a car or can they walk everywhere? Is it safe to walk at night?
  • Take an inventory of the house with your parents and siblings. Decide what will go with your parents and what will stay behind. Determine what items will be given to family members, donated to charity, or sold through a yard sale or on the internet.
  • Prepare for moving day. Leave plenty of time to pack. Order the boxes necessary for the move well in advance and have them delivered at least one week before the move. Pack the least used rooms first, making sure to label each box with its contents and destination at the new home. Once those rooms are complete, pack up the rest of the rooms, making sure to separate the items your parents will need on a daily basis. Put those items in suitcases that are easily accessible throughout the move.
  • Let your parents say goodbye. If your parents have lived in their house for several years, it is natural for them to have a sense of loss when they move, especially if they’re moving to a place that won’t truly feel like home, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. Give them time to say goodbye to this chapter of their life and embrace the new.
  • Relieve Stress. Try to help your parents ease into their new place by unpacking as much as you can before they arrive. Not only is this a great housewarming gift, but it allows them to start their new life on a happy note.
  • Preserve the familiar. To the extent possible, try to recreate the parts of your parents’ old home that they loved in their new place. Set up their bedroom in the same way or put their well-loved armchair next to a window with a view.

There are so many issues to consider when moving a parent – hopefully this list provides a good starting point!

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