Downsizing the Painless Way
Moving to a smaller residence means getting rid of stuff — a conundrum that faces many seniors as well as families. A move manager can help you get through the downsizing process with less stress and mess.
About 66% of retirees plan to pay for senior living through the sale of their home, according to one recent study — and yet for many of us, the tough decisions, overwhelming details and intense emotions associated with moving end up delaying a much-needed move by an average of nine months. Learn more about move managers and how they can assist you in downsizing in a painless way.
Why Is Downsizing So Difficult?
If you’ve been living in the same home for many years, it can be difficult to even think about giving up treasured possessions to move to a smaller house or apartment, let alone figure out what to give up and how to get rid of it. Trusted friends and loved ones can help, but sometimes the task feels like it’s too much. If that’s the case for you, then you may want to consider speaking to a professional move manager before you begin the process of downsizing. Move managers can help you lower your stress, avoid family drama and perhaps even save your sanity. Especially when it comes to moving as a senior to a smaller residence, such as an assisted living apartment.
According to Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, the 21st century has brought with it a “perfect storm” of circumstances to challenge those seniors who do want to downsize:
- There are more older people now than at any other time in history.
- More families are being dispersed throughout large geographic areas.
- Rather than aging in place, there has been a boom in the construction of assisted living and independent living communities.
- Goods have never been cheaper and shopping has never been easier. This makes downsizing a challenge.
- The increasing necessity of the two-income household limits the time and availability of adult children to efficiently help their older parent.
How a Move Manager Can Help Seniors and Families Downsize
Moving is much more than simply putting your stuff in boxes and hiring a moving truck. Especially in a move to a smaller residence, you need to consider important questions of how much to take, what to take and where to put it when you get there.
When Katie Munoz’s father passed away ten years ago, and her mother moved into a retirement community, Munoz realized how much work it truly was to downsize. At the time, she was a program manager in the software industry. After going through nearly three months of helping her mother move, Munoz decided she wanted to make the process easier for others, and started her business Moving Forward, which specializes in retirement downsizing.
“When they’re downsizing, people usually take too much,” says Munoz. Move managers can help with all of that: sorting, packing, helping you organize an estate sale or gifts to charity, even being there on moving day so that everything is done for you when you arrive at your new place. A move manager can also help seniors and families declutter if they need to make room for other things, like in-home safety equipment or a caregiver, or with making walkways wide enough to be easy to navigate. They can even help if your loved one has a tendency towards hoarding, an issue which affects many of our readers.
Munoz starts by asking plenty of questions, in order to figure out what’s going on with the family and where they need the most help. Some customers need strategies for approaching the whole project; others need someone to help them do the physical work of packing.
Facing the Challenges of Downsizing
Downsizing can be a real trial, and a move manager is there to help you face the roadblocks that come up. In helping people sort out what to keep, Munoz has them ask themselves the question “What do I use the most?” rather than: “What can I do without?” With the right amount of communication and preparation, the process of moving and downsizing can be whittled down to as little as two weeks. Of course, sometimes the challenges are rooted in the family’s own dynamics — in that case, if the problem is serious, Munoz might refer them to a care manager. But that doesn’t happen very often.
Generally, the issues she encounters are minor. Sometimes, for instance, the family doesn’t think they need a move manager. “The sons in the family think they can rent a truck and do it. They forget that downsizing isn’t about moving stuff. It’s organizing the move and making mom feel included in the move.” Besides that, there are so many things that can go wrong during a move, like misplacing important items or mistakenly packing documents that you need right away. “If you get someone to help, they can steer you around all of these potholes.”
Munoz’s services cost $85/hour — around $5K total for a move to a two-bedroom apartment in the Seattle area, for example. It’s a price that could be well worth it for many families, saving the time and heartache of struggling through the process on their own. Like most other move managers, she also does consultations by phone. To find a professional and reliable move manager in your area, get in touch with the National Association of Senior Move Managers. They can help you find someone who, like Katie Munoz, truly takes pride and joy in assisting people with the transition to a new home.
“You see so much of the inside of life,” she says. “We see the most personal details of somebody’s life when we help them. We get a lot of hugs, which makes it rewarding.”
Have you or a loved one used the services of a move manager? If so, what did you find most helpful about the process? Share your tips with us in the comments below.
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