How to Downsize
Eight Steps for Easing a Move to a Retirement Community Unit
One of the hardest things about moving from the family home to a retirement community is downsizing. Your parents may find themselves in a 600- or 700-square foot unit -- or something even smaller. In the long run, most will find their new living situation more enjoyable than they anticipated, because in a good retirement community, much of their day -- meals, activities, outings -- will take place outside their living quarters. But the more you can do to help them prepare and set up their space early on, the easier the move will be for everyone. Here are eight steps to take:
Help get the ball rolling.
The first step in easing the transition to a retirement community comes before the moving van pulls up, when you can help with the task of sorting through the stuff and figuring out what to bring along.
Pick your battles -- and be prepared to weather some early storms.
"Change is scary," points out Jennifer Prell, a senior move manager in Illinois and CEO of Paxem. A retirement community is "a totally different lifestyle, and they're not used to having someone take care of them." That's why your parents may become seemingly irrational about holding on to belongings that seems unnecessary or impractical to you. Don't make a fuss over every item. Once they get used to their new home, says Prell, your parents are likely to find they have a perfect amount of space -- and they may decide to weed through their possessions further, all on their own.
Ask for the things that don't fit.
If your parents have brought along items that are impractical or just don't fit, tell them you've had your eye on the offending heirlooms -- even if you have to put them in your basement. Or suggest donating bulky items to charity. This way your parents can avoid admitting they made a mistake and may feel like they're helping out rather than "giving in."