2011-07-01 / Columns

THE OTHER Side of 50

Senior moving simplified

Adele’s vision loss from glaucoma was forcing her, at age 78, to leave her home in Maine.

She planned to move to Simi, into a retirement community close to her son Bill.

Though she had some fears, Adele knew she could enjoy life more and get the help she needed if she moved near her son and granddaughter.

“Mom had increasingly become worried, as well as isolated from the things she liked to do,” Bill said. “She could no longer drive to the senior center and stayed in her bedroom more often because it was the easiest to navigate with her vision loss. Preparing meals was also becoming more difficult for her.”

Bill, a dentist, had worries of his own. He couldn’t leave his job for the amount of time it would take to sort through years of furnishings and memories his mother had accumulated.

“At lunch one day I was sharing my concerns with my staff, and my receptionist suggested I hire a senior move manager,” Bill said. “At the time, I’d never heard of one.”

According to Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers ( NASMM), the group facilitated more than 50,000 moves last year.

“Today more adult children live greater distances from their parents,” Buysse said, “and frequently the adult child and their spouse are both working, making it hard to find the time to orchestrate a move for their parents.”

Senior move managers perform duties such as sorting and packing the client’s personal possessions, hanging pictures, organizing estate and tag sales, and distributing goods to charities and adult children.

They work with families to do all or some of the work required for a move.

A senior move manager’s goal is to make the physical and emotional aspects of moving easier for older adults.

The move was not going to be easy for Adele. For 58 years she had lived in a 2,500-square-foot home with a garage and a basement, and she was planning to move to a 400-square-foot studio apartment.

It wasn’t just her furniture and car she would need to give up; there also wouldn’t be room for her collection of Wedgewood china or the books, photo albums and files she’d been keeping for years.

On behalf of his mother, Bill contacted Ventura and Los Angeles county senior move specialists Kathy Flood and Gail Meyer of Moving Matters LLC.

“First we contacted fellow senior move managers in Maine, who worked with us on their end to help Adele sort, plan and distribute her belongings,” Meyer said. “Adele was thrilled that her granddaughters wanted most of her Wedgewood collection. Adele also planned to take a few pieces with her to Simi.”

When Adele came to California, Meyer and Flood were there to help.

“The day her belongings came to her new apartment was an emotional day for Adele,” Meyer said. “She was tired and overwhelmed. Kathy and I told Bill to take Adele to lunch and we would handle the move into her new apartment.

“We used photos of Adele’s bedroom from the move team in Maine and set up her room exactly like the photos, even placing her Wedgewood pieces in a small curio Bill had purchased for her.”

“When Adele returned home later that day, tears came to her eyes,” Flood said. “This was the first time we had seen her smile since we met her. As a senior move specialist, we know it’s about moving people, not boxes.”

Senior move managers generally work on an hourly fee and often offer a free consultation.

To find one in your area, go to www.nasmm.org.

Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks is providing this column. Senior Concerns is a nonprofit agency serving Ventura and western Los Angeles counties.

For more information, visit www.seniorconcerns.org, and for comments or questions, email acorn@seniorconcerns.org.

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