How to Move Your Senior Parents
Moving is a stressful event at any age, and for seniors who may have spent several decades in the same home, the process can be even more disruptive. In addition to the practical details and logistics of relocating everything your parents own, there are heavy, emotional matters to discuss and decide on.
The entire moving process—from planning to move day—can take several months and requires managing a variety of different tasks. Most people don’t have a process for packing and transporting all their personal things—including cherished items of value. That’s why we put together the Residential Moving Checklist.
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One way we engage our customers and potential customers is by sharing the secrets to a successful move our experienced local and long-distance movers use every day.
This in-depth article you’re reading expands on that checklist by providing 3 questions to ask before your senior parents move.
- Why are your parents moving?
Maybe there’s one reason—to be closer to family. Sometimes, it’s more complicated.
Aging in place is a very popular choice for the elderly, and may seem like the least disruptive option. However, eventually mobility becomes a challenge for everyone, and it’s never too early to take a detailed look at your parents’ home and decide if it’s even possible.
Quick Rules of Thumb:
- The kitchen, bathroom, and master bedroom should all have direct access—without stairs—to the main part of the house
- Doors need to be a minimum of 32’’ wide, and 36’’ wide when you turn into a hallway
- Bathroom must allow for a 5’ diameter circle of clear space to turn
- Sinks need to provide a minimum of 27’’ of space underneath for knee clearance
- Toilets need to be 19’’ high and ADA compliant
- A walk-in shower is essential and must be at least 3’ deep and 5’ long
- Countertops should be a maximum of 32’’ from the floor, and faucets and appliances should be within 20’’ from the edge of the counter
- Clearance between the island and cabinets, which should be a minimum of 30’’ for straight passage and 36’’ for turning
—From the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design
All these changes can be quite costly. Start by figuring out how much equity is in your parents’ home. Then, get estimates for the changes needed to make your parents’ home accessible. Add in all the other upcoming maintenance that’s needed, such as a new roof, updated heat and hot water systems, fresh paint and general repairs, etc. You may find your parents can live a much higher quality of life in a condominium or smaller home.
- Is it the right time to move?
This question should really be asked first—possibly years before the real decisions about why to move comes up.
One of the most influential factors to look at is the real estate market. As sellers, you want the market up, and when you go to purchase, you want to be in a buyer’s market. It is possible, depending on if you’re planning a long-distance or local move. For instance, real estate could be hot in Passaic County and slow in Ocean County.
A very personal but also critically important topic to address is finances. Can your parents afford to maintain their own home? Can they buy a second home, rent it until they retire, and then move in? As many investors learned during the global financial crisis, a low-risk retirement portfolio can bottom out at any time in today’s volatile markets. It’s important to set financial goals and have a strategic plan for downsizing in retirement.
Pro tip: hire an expert. Just like hiring the best NJ moving company will ensure a stress-free move, using a trusted financial advisor to gain insight into the options your parents have financially is invaluable. From rebalancing a portfolio for income to paying the least amount of taxes, the right financial advisor can give you peace of mind your parents’ are getting the most from their assets.
- What do you do with all the stuff?
Here’s where things can get emotional. Inherently, downsizing means everything can’t come. It’s a good idea to allow for as much time for this process as possible.
Start a list, and go room by room and make a plan for where everything is going to go. Many times children and even grandchildren may be able to use big furniture pieces and chairs that won’t work in a smaller dwelling. You may be able to pay for some of your moving expenses by selling items on eBay and at yard sales. Pay it forward and donate to charities.
Don’t go with cheap movers. The process won’t go well, and your parents may lose items they wanted to keep. After figuring in the time, stress, and logistics, you will find hiring professional movers in NJ is the smart move.
In the end, rent a dumpster. Go through everything that’s left, one last time, and fill the dumpster.
Throughout this entire process, communicating with your parents, siblings, and family is crucial. Letting your parents feel in control of the process is important, and keeping peace in the family is also essential to a smooth transition.
Pro tip: hire an expert! Yes, there are resources for moving seniors at The National Association of Senior Move Managers. And, of course, contact us for your complimentary, customized quote to make moving day a success!