Sooner or later we have to deal with helping a parent, grandparent or other family member move.  It may be to a smaller home or an assisted living facility. 

There are many things to consider.  Care for your loved one, selling the home, legal matters, pets, all that stuff....

It's best to prepare now, for yourself and your loved ones.  Don't wait for that call telling you mom's fallen and now she requires assistance and can no longer live in her home.


1.  Have the talk

This involves the entire family.  Don't leave anyone out.  Involve all your siblings.  The worst you can do is make all the plans and arrangements and then inform the rest of your family.  This will only induce conflict and confusion.  Make the talk casual at first with your parents about their health and age.  What would be their best case scenario to live out their lives?  What is the worst?  What will they give up?


2.  Legal matters.

Consult a lawyer with your parents. It's always best to seek legal council in any real estate matter.  Find out how your title is held, how a sale effects your estate, heirs, taxes and finances.


3.  Financial matters.

Consult your financial planner.  There are many variables to consider when downsizing.  Are you buying a smaller home?  Moving in to assisted living?  How are you going to pay for it?  There are many ways to do afford a new home.  They can be Veteran benefits, a life insurance policy, a long-term care insurance policy, Reverse Mortgage, using annuities, renting your current home, using Medicaid or Social Security Income, a Bridge Loan or your family members. Some of these options may work and others you may not qualify for.  There may be penalties or other factors to consider doing one of these.  So, again, consult your financial planner.


4.  Choose an SRES

A Seniors Real Estate Specialist, like myself, has been trained and has earned the credentials in dealing with seniors.  We have patience and know we need to spend the time with you and your family to assist you in the next stage of your life.  An SRES also has multiple contacts to assist seniors, from movers and packers, financial planners, Reverse Mortgage specialists, lawyers, contractors, specialists to help you plan your move and contacts with many types of senior communities and living.  Think of us as one shopping.


5. Gather information

What updates have been made to the home, who did them and permits if applicable.  Collect all the dates on major appliances and warranty information.  When was the furnace, roof and HVAC serviced?  Collect all this information, write it down and have the file handy for your realtor.  This information will help provide an estimate to the homes value, give an idea on what needs to be done for service and repairs, and will be a helpful tool for inspectors and appraisers. 


6.  Choose the right place to live.

Not every senior wants to move to a retirement community.  Not everyone needs to go to some type of assisted living.  Finances play a huge role in what they can afford and where.  A condo or townhouse may be an option where HOA dues pay for yard and building maintenance.  Or a single-level home with a small yard may afford more privacy and independence. 

Help them choose a safe place to live, both inside and out.   Can modifications be made to the home like wider doors, lower counter heights, bathroom improvements, ramps or stair lifts?  Also, consider location to shopping areas, doctors, public transportation, retailers and family.


7.  Have a timeline.

Selling a home has a lot of considerations, especially if your parents still live there.  Preparing a home for sale means organizing, staging and cleaning inside and out.  This is where a professional stagger is helpful.  Your realtor will set up dates to list, photographs, placing signs, and showing times.  Have them work with you to achieve your goals.  A good realtor won't rush you unless there is a good reason for both parties to make a timeline.  And finally, when are you going to your new home?  Or are you still looking?  And are you prepared to move sooner if your house sells very quickly? 


8. Make decisions.

If your parents are unable to make their own decisions then it is up to you to help them find the perfect home.  Don't rush or force them into something you think is ideal.  Remember, it's where they will live, not you.  Definitely express your concerns for safety, convenience and finances.


9.  Choose the right stuff.

Your parents stuff is not junk.  It's their treasures and memories.  Help them decide what to take, what will fit in their new home and what will be given to family, friends, sold, donated and tossed.  If you can start this process early, great.  If they are not sure about something, put it in a box, date it and store it for them.  After a year, re-visit it with them and see if they still find it of interest.


10.  Stick to the norm.

Although moving interrupts life, make sure they are following their normal routine as much as possible.  Whether that is walking, exercising, hobbies, attending functions and clubs... continue to do it.  And make sure that wherever they move to, they can continue doing it as much as possible.



Tom Townsend, Broker, SRES

Denise Townsend Group

Keller Williams Sunset Corridor

1915 NW Amberglen Pkwy #250

Beaverton OR 97006