Alice Goodman of upstate New York, widowed last fall when her husband of 51 years succumbed to the cancer he had battled for over three years, stands in her cream-colored living room and surveys the scene with a sigh. Her 4-bedroom Dutch Colonial home, nestled on an elm-lined street of young families, had become increasingly difficult to maintain during her husband's illness. Now that he is gone, the upkeep has become overwhelming. She is so lonely now, in the same house where she, her husband and their four children had made their lives for decades. How can that be?
Alice thinks of her four adult children, scattered across three different states. Jobs, kids, and other obligations prevent them from being here with her now. She leaves in the morning for Florida, where she will join her older sister, Joan, who is also a widow. There, in a contemporary condominium complex in central Florida, Alice will live just one floor up from Joan. Everything is brand new, and one of her daughters lives only two hours away. She is excited about the future, but she needs one more, long look around.
Encouraged by the rising tide of retiring baby boomers and the desire of many empty nesters to simplify their lives in smaller spaces, relocation consultants for the 55+ crowd have become part of an emerging field: Senior Move Management (also known as senior relocation). Here's just a few facts:
- The U.S. population aged 65 and over will jump nearly 80 percent when the Baby Boom generation retires (from 2010 to 2030).
- By 2030, the elderly will account for one-fifth of the total U.S. population. Did you also know that Americans age 85 and above comprise the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population?
Anyone who has ever moved knows how stressful it can be. It's particularly challenging for older adults and their families when it's time to pack up a home of 30, 40, or 50 years and start over somewhere else. Fortunately, local small businesses all over the country are helping with this transition. A Senior Move Manager is a professional who specializes in assisting older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or "aging in place."
It's simple: senior move managers move people — not just boxes. From Canada to Texas, from Maine to California, senior move managers share a commitment to connecting with mid-life and older adults and a desire to perform the meaningful work of moving a lifetime. Senior Move Managers are contacted by various sources: older adults, family members, bank and trust officers, realtors, senior living communities, moving companies, attorneys, geriatric care managers, and others. Consider:
- Senior Move Managers guide clients through a journey that's often as much about sorting through a lifetime's worth of memories as it is about possessions.
- SMMs facilitate the decision regarding what to take, what to leave and how to redirect it. They also set up and organize the new home.
- The growth in retirement communities and the scattering of adult children have created this niche service.
- Two-income households leave adult children little time to help aging parents pack and move.
- Other seniors, single or without children, don't have much help of any kind, and are too overwhelmed to tackle the problem alone. You are not alone! Call a Senior Move Manager.
- Even when family help is available, emotions can run high, making the process thorny and upsetting for everyone involved.
- Often a move is precipitated by an illness or death of a spouse, as was Alice's experience.
Typically, the Senior Move Manager draws a floor plan of the new setting, so the client can visualize what furniture will fit and where it will go. Transitioning to smaller quarters often requires a creative and insightful approach. For example, Alice's massive, lifelong teapot collection was culled down to three favorites that will adorn her new dinette. The Senior Move Manager decided to snap digital photos of the remaining 71 teapots, make them into a stunning color poster, and frame the poster for less than $50. The poster will hang in Alice's new dinette area, where she can admire her teapot collection every morning with a cup of Earl Grey!
Senior Move Managers are imaginative, resourceful, compassionate professionals.
As the older adult sorts through generations of belongings, the Senior Move Manager helps he or she decide what constitutes "treasure" and what is truly "trash." The Senior Move Manager arranges for consignment, donations and gifts. SMMs will collaborate with movers and plan for storage (if necessary), set up the new household, and see that the old house is cleaned and ready. Some Senior Move Managers also have experience moving frail seniors into nursing homes. Others will actually accompany an older adult on long-distance transportation, such as plane or train travel, as part of the move process.
Although specific services vary, most Senior Move Managers can help with some or all of the following:
- Developing an overall move or "age in place" plan
- Organizing, sorting and downsizing
- Customized floor plans
- Arranging for the profitable disposal of unwanted items through auction, estate sale, buy-out, consignment, donation, or a combination of the above
- Interviewing, scheduling and overseeing movers
- Arranging shipments and storage
- Professional packing
- Unpacking and setting up the new home
- Related services, such as cleaning, waste removal, shopping, senior escort, assisting with selection of a realtor and helping prepare the home to be sold.
Some senior move managers provide these services directly; others function in more of an oversight or management role. Senior Move Managers hold extensive, practical knowledge about the costs, quality and availability of local community resources. Additionally, Senior Move Managers frequently assist individuals who choose to stay in their own homes, but simply require expert organizational skills and solid knowledge of "aging in place" concepts to help them achieve their goal of ... not moving anywhere, but improving quality of life!
Clients will often ask Senior Move Managers to manage a move across the miles, such as Alice Goodman's relocation from New York to Florida. In this event, the Senior Move Manager who is directing the project where the older adult currently is located will connect with another Senior Move Manager at the receiving end and partner with them.
When Alice Goodman departs for sunny Florida in the morning, she will travel to her new condo, knowing every possession she cherishes is moving with her and is in its rightful place — family photographs and mirrors hung, the draperies mounted on window frames, her bed made for the evening, and her dishware and glasses stacked in the kitchen cabinets. Her faithful nightstand will, once again, stand watch over Alice that first evening — with telephone, television remote, eyeglasses, and tissues in their expected spots. Someone — yes, a Senior Move Manager! — will help to make this lifetime transition a little easier for Alice and her entire family.
For all of these reasons and many more, 50,000 families and older adults chose a Senior Move Manager last year.