Senior Moves

Should You Talk to Your Parents About Downsizing Over the Holidays?

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Having the downsizing conversation is never easy for anyone involved. For both children and parents, it’s one more sign that the parents are aging, which is difficult to accept. One way to make it easier is to talk about it before the move becomes necessary. Ask your parents if they have thought about where they would go or what type of place they would like to live in next. Would it be a one-story condo near the water? Or a manageable apartment closer to you or one of your siblings? Laying this groundwork ahead of time gives everyone a chance to consider the options available before they have to become a reality.

Another way to make the talk go better is to be prepared. If you have siblings, ask them if they think it’s time. If not, really listen to their reasoning and see whether it changes your mind or not. If all of you aren’t on the same page, it may be best to wait and approach the subject later. Having one or more family members not on board before you even talk to your parent is not a good start.

Not only may you potentially be trying to convince your siblings and parents this is the right thing to do, you may be trying to convince yourself as well. People often feel guilty about bringing up the subject, even though they believe it will be better for their parents’ well-being. It also makes them face the fact that their parents are getting older and may soon be the ones needing help instead of the other way around. Take some time to deal with your own feelings so that you are ready to help your parent with theirs when you talk to them.

While you shouldn’t try to decide exactly where your parent should live before talking to them, you should think about some of the options that make the most sense to you. Do some research on several possibilities and even visit them if possible to make sure you still think they would be a good fit. There are so many choices when it comes to senior living nowadays that you’ll want to know what’s available and what they have to offer.

When you decide to talk with your parent, make sure you are completely vested in the conversation. Block out some time, go to your parents’ house, leave the kids at home, and focus entirely on the discussion. According to an article on caring.com,

      “One of the greatest challenges people in midlife face in their dealings with the elderly is to slow down       and find the time to be fully present. It's a mistake to discuss important issues on the fly, when you're         rushed and preoccupied. If you need to talk about something crucial with your parents, make a                     conscious effort to put your personal agenda aside -- along with your cell phone.”

Once you have given your full attention to the conversation, listen carefully to their responses. Remember that you are still the child and they are the parent. Don’t tell them what you think they have to do, talk about the options you have researched and answer their questions as best as you can. Talk about the benefits of a new place – if it’s smaller it’ll be easier to clean and maintain; in a condo there are fewer utility bills to worry about paying; in a 55-and-older community everyone is around the same age, making socializing easier; they provide transportation to the grocery store, doctor, and other outings so driving isn’t an issue. Offer to go see a few different places together, but respect your parents’ wishes if they don’t want to yet.

Being respectful of your parent’s feelings and offering to work together with them to find the right solution is a better approach than trying to take charge. Through open communication, you may both discover they’ve been wanting to move closer to you, or the upkeep of the current home is a burden, or staying in the place where a spouse or several neighbors no longer live is actually depressing. Then it’s time to take the next step. However, if that isn’t the case, don’t continue to push the subject until it becomes an argument. Allow some time for everyone to think it over and try again later to work together toward the right solution.

 

 

 

 

Why Using a Senior Move Manager Makes Sense

In our previous article, The Difference Between Downsizing and Moving, we discussed how downsizing can be more challenging than a regular move. Using a senior move manager who, unlike a traditional mover, is trained and equipped to deal with these challenges can make a difficult transition easier.

With the gentle and expert guidance of an experienced SMM, older adults and families make the tough decisions without the emotional and physical distress that can follow. As a result, older adults and their families avoid the costly mistakes and disputes that often accompany such major life transitions.

The job of a regular moving company is to get everything from Point A to Point B, and reputable movers do a great job of accomplishing this quickly and safely. Senior move managers (SMMs) don’t just move a person’s belongings from one place to another. They provide a multi-faceted approach to the move process, from space planning in the beginning to post-move support and advocacy. Their oversight minimizes the chaos and stress associated with moving by addressing all aspects of the move process. SMMs are responsible for creating and executing a seamless action plan, customized to the client’s wishes. 

 

When a senior move manager is tasked with packing up a home, they do not pack just pack everything in sight and relocate them to the new residence. They ensure items are packed and distributed according to the family’s wishes. Each item in the home is designated to be moved with the older adult, distributed to a family member, sold at auction, donated or discarded. The person who is relocating will find themselves in their new location only with the belongings they wanted to take, not whatever was in the house. The previous home is cleaned and ready to be sold or occupied by another family member.

Because most senior moves involve downsizing, SMMs assess the new space before any items are moved to ensure everything that is moved will fit and be functional. They generally do not move their clients’ possessions themselves, but they contract with movers they trust and have worked with before, and they oversee the entire move. Once everything has been relocated, senior move managers do not simply leave it all or just empty the boxes the regular moving company has transported, they do a full unpack and resettle, paying close attention to detail to make the new residence feel as much like home as possible, creating a better environment for the older adult’s physical and cognitive health. 

Estate sale or auction services offered by many senior move managers turn unwanted items into income that can offset the cost of the move. This additional service prevents family members from having to sell items online or at garage sales and gives them more time to spend with their loved ones. SMMs handle the sale and distribution of the items as well as the collection of the proceeds when the sale is complete.

Senior move managers become extended family to the older adult and their families as they help navigate the unfamiliar territory of downsizing and moving. They advocate on behalf of their clients when others can’t or won’t. As members of the business community, SMMs have a network of trusted experts they share with their clients, including realtors and elder care attorneys. They can also offer insight on local senior living options such as 55-and-older communities and assisted living facilities.

Using a senior move manager who is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers ensures not only that your belongings will be relocated, but that your move is being overseen by a qualified, caring, ethical individual who understands your situation and will make the best decisions for you and your family.

Should You Talk to Your Parents About Downsizing Over the Holidays?

postcard.jpg

Having the downsizing conversation is never easy for anyone involved. For both children and parents, it’s one more sign that the parents are aging, which is difficult to accept. One way to make it easier is to talk about it before the move becomes necessary. Ask your parents if they have thought about where they would go or what type of place they would like to live in next. Would it be a one-story condo near the water? Or a manageable apartment closer to you or one of your siblings? Laying this groundwork ahead of time gives everyone a chance to consider the options available before they have to become a reality.

Another way to make the talk go better is to be prepared. If you have siblings, ask them if they think it’s time. If not, really listen to their reasoning and see whether it changes your mind or not. If all of you aren’t on the same page, it may be best to wait and approach the subject later. Having one or more family members not on board before you even talk to your parent is not a good start.

Not only may you potentially be trying to convince your siblings and parents this is the right thing to do, you may be trying to convince yourself as well. People often feel guilty about bringing up the subject, even though they believe it will be better for their parents’ well-being. It also makes them face the fact that their parents are getting older and may soon be the ones needing help instead of the other way around. Take some time to deal with your own feelings so that you are ready to help your parent with theirs when you talk to them.

While you shouldn’t try to decide exactly where your parent should live before talking to them, you should think about some of the options that make the most sense to you. Do some research on several possibilities and even visit them if possible to make sure you still think they would be a good fit. There are so many choices when it comes to senior living nowadays that you’ll want to know what’s available and what they have to offer.

When you decide to talk with your parent, make sure you are completely vested in the conversation. Block out some time, go to your parents’ house, leave the kids at home, and focus entirely on the discussion. According to an article on caring.com,

      “One of the greatest challenges people in midlife face in their dealings with the elderly is to slow down       and find the time to be fully present. It's a mistake to discuss important issues on the fly, when you're         rushed and preoccupied. If you need to talk about something crucial with your parents, make a                     conscious effort to put your personal agenda aside -- along with your cell phone.”

Once you have given your full attention to the conversation, listen carefully to their responses. Remember that you are still the child and they are the parent. Don’t tell them what you think they have to do, talk about the options you have researched and answer their questions as best as you can. Talk about the benefits of a new place – if it’s smaller it’ll be easier to clean and maintain; in a condo there are fewer utility bills to worry about paying; in a 55-and-older community everyone is around the same age, making socializing easier; they provide transportation to the grocery store, doctor, and other outings so driving isn’t an issue. Offer to go see a few different places together, but respect your parents’ wishes if they don’t want to yet.

Being respectful of your parent’s feelings and offering to work together with them to find the right solution is a better approach than trying to take charge. Through open communication, you may both discover they’ve been wanting to move closer to you, or the upkeep of the current home is a burden, or staying in the place where a spouse or several neighbors no longer live is actually depressing. Then it’s time to take the next step. However, if that isn’t the case, don’t continue to push the subject until it becomes an argument. Allow some time for everyone to think it over and try again later to work together toward the right solution.

 

 

 

 

The Cats Are Moving Too

Not all of our senior moves are for our senior residents, sometimes they also involve their favorite four-legged companions and those can come with some challenges of their own. We had the privilege of helping Ms. W make a transition from one independent senior community to another across town and needed to make sure we also included her two furry friends that would be making the move with her. 

Our team took a Friday afternoon to pack up Ms. W's belongings, leaving out items she would need over the weekend. We wanted to get as many of her personal items carefully packed to ensure that her new residence would feel like home right away. On Monday morning we arrived to meet the movers and oversee the move day. The decision was made that Ms. W's daughter would transport her beloved felines, following along with a reSettled Life policy, and we would make sure everything else was loaded on the moving truck and delivered to her new senior community. Although the cats ended up being a little more difficult to wrangle than we had originally thought, they were eventually secured and made their way to their new home ahead of Ms. W. 

Our reSettling process was a smooth one, as we loaded Ms. W new home with all of her favorite things, making sure to place those items in the same location they were at her previous residence and hanging every family picture and heirloom that she had on her walls around her room. Her furry friends stayed put in the bathroom, to become more acclimated with their new surroundings, and were ready to roam freely by the time we had finished up. When we had every box unpacked and removed from the room, every picture hung and cabinet filled, we said our goodbyes. We left Ms. W with a huge smile on her face and a sense of relief that the overwhelming move was complete and had not been as stressful as she thought it would be. Knowing we had a happy senior client, already settled in her brand new home, gave us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, which meant we were able to leave with a smile! 

A Gift of Time

As I've mentioned before, one of the most interesting aspects of my business is that no two moves or clients are the same. There are times when we work directly with the senior and then there are times when we are working with the adult child on behalf of their parent. This was the situation with our latest move and we were so honored to get to be involved in giving an unexpected gift at the end of the move.

Ms. L, the daughter of the senior client, contacted me with a complex move. Her mom, Mrs. A, at age 91, needed to be moved to a different senior community that would better fit her needs. The difficulty came with the fact that she did not live locally and was having to coordinate a complete downsize and transition from many miles away. Mrs. A had a 2 bedroom apartment and was moving to a companion suite, meaning a major downsize was going to need to take place. Ms. L was going to be in town for only 3 days and knew that she could not possibly complete the task at hand on her own. She also wanted to spend time with her mother, but anticipated that would be very limited due to the time constraints and the massive project for the 3 days. We were happy to step in and assist. 

Ms. L and I spoke over the phone and emailed several times over the course of a few weeks to plan as much as we could ahead of her arrival. I toured the new community, saw Mrs. A's new room and created a floor plan so we would know exactly what we could fit in the new space. The afternoon Ms. L arrived, my team was waiting and ready to pack Mrs. A's belongings that would be accompanying her to her new residence as well as oversee the movers that were handling the heavy lifting and delivery of Mrs. A's furniture. We spent the rest of the day carefully unpacking, labeling every personal item and arranging Mrs. A's new room to feel as much like her previous place, even making sure the wall hangings above her bed were there at the new residence. Again, as per our policy, every box was unpacked and every item stored in it's new home. 

The following 2 days consisted of sorting, donation packing and purging items leftover at Mrs. A's old apartment. Our team worked closely with Ms. L to determine what items she wanted to keep for herself and then we took care of getting those items shipped to her home states away. We also set up a great donation of furniture and household items with Lifeline Ministries, one of our partner charities. By the time we were finished the apartment was emptied of all the contents other than a few furniture pieces that family was picking up that evening.

There was a collective sigh of relief, by Ms. L and everyone involved, to know that what seemed an impossible task, had been completed and done so ahead of schedule. That's where the gift comes in. Ms. L did not anticipate having any real time to spend with her mom due everything that needed to be accomplished in such a short period of time. After a warm hug and some thank you's, Ms. L said "I couldn't have done this without you." The gift of time we were able to give to Ms. L to spend with her mom is priceless and why we have the motto "Getting You Back To What Really Matters." Yes, there are tasks that you have to complete and they can seem insurmountable, but by hiring reSettled Life, Ms. L was able to get back to really mattered and spend some quality time with her 91 year old mother. That is why this company exists and why we get to leave clients with a smile on our faces, to give something as precious as time with a loved one is a beautiful gift and one we love to be a part of!

Making sure these special pieces were hanging in this arrangement above Mrs. A's bed in her new residence was an important factor in our resettling process.

Making sure these special pieces were hanging in this arrangement above Mrs. A's bed in her new residence was an important factor in our resettling process.

Melanie, one of our team members, carefully sorting and packing years worth of items in Mrs. A's apartment.

Melanie, one of our team members, carefully sorting and packing years worth of items in Mrs. A's apartment.

The results of our work! 

The results of our work! 

In A Bind

One of the most interesting parts of being a Senior Move Manager is that no two clients or moves are the same. You never know what services a client will need, what they will find value in, and the timeframe you are working with. Some moves are planned out months in advance, yet others you have just days to make it all happen. Each job, though, is an adventure and this week's was no exception, yet at the end of the job, it was rewarding both professionally and personally.

I was hired by a couple who were in a bind. Both husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. J, are in their 80s and he had just been released from a stay in the hospital and rehab. He could no longer stay at his previous residence and she was scrambling to find him a new place to live, along with figuring out how to make it all happen on such short notice. She was overwhelmed and stressed. She had found him a new senior community to move into, but had no way of handling the transition, as her health was frail and there was no other family to take on the task and it needed to be done in 4 day. So, she called me. 

After speaking with Mrs.J and finding out the specifics, I went into action mode. This is who I am, I get things done. If I don't know how to do something, I work diligently until I figure it out. I organize, I plan, I execute. By the end of that day, I had a plan in place, with every piece of the puzzle figured out and Mrs. J was relieved to know that the transition was under way, with her not having to worry any longer on how it was going to happen. 

Pack Day arrived the following morning and my team and I went to work at carefully packing and preparing for the move. We worked hard to ensure everything was in place and ready for move day. By the time we left, boxes were sealed and every drawer was empty and ready for the movers. 

Move Day was exciting! The movers arrived promptly and worked efficiently to get the truck loaded. Once we arrived at the new community, it was time to get to work to unpack and "resettle" Mr. J. The couple had already arrived earlier in the day and were able to sit and relax as my team and I unloaded. We unpacked every box and organized as we put things away. The linen pantry, dresser, and closet were filled with Mr. J's belongings. We carefully made the bed and placed all of his personal pictures and items in the exact locations they were in at his former residence. We wanted this to feel like home. When Mr. and Mrs. J were escorted to his new home, there were smiles and words of gratitude. What had seemed like an insurmountable job had been handled with ease and compassion. Mrs. J told me that she was so blessed by the services we offered and that it was such a needed business. 

There's more to this company, for me, than just receiving a paycheck. It's about helping others and providing something that they need. It's about giving someone else, that is overwhelmed, the feeling that everything is going to be okay. There is peace and joy in that feeling and I love giving and receiving those blessings.