Moving to a Senior Living community can be liberating, representing simpler living and freedom from the responsibilities of homeownership.
For many of us, that word causes more bad dreams than a Stephen King novel.
Regardless of why we’re moving and where we’re headed, there’s always some degree of stress involved. The move to a Senior Living community often adds another level of stress to the task: downsizing.
Deciding what to keep and what is no longer needed seems daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. “Too many people look at it [moving to a senior community] as a negative,” says Brian Walton owner of Assisted Moving of Kansas City, a senior move management company. “But the process can be made easier by realizing that your new lifestyle includes a space designed for simpler living.”
Should it Stay, or Should it Go
Through 10 years of experience, Walton learned the best approach is to divide the move into two parts: Part A and Part B.
Part A includes everything that’s going to the new community. Part B is everything that’s not going. Walton says it’s his job to help clients concentrate on Part A.
If you or family members prefer to tackle Part A on your own, Walton offers a few tips used by his company and other senior move managers:
- Request a floor plan (including dimensions) of the new space.
Even if you’ve visited the community multiple times, when it comes to a long distance move you don’t have the luxury of driving across town and popping in to take another measurement. Senior move managers use the floor plan to visualize the new space which often automatically eliminates certain items from part A.
- Methodically work through one room at a time.
Remember to stay focused on completing part A, packing or separating out only those things you’ll need to support your new lifestyle.
Walton and his staff always start in the kitchen. This is the room that is usually most impacted. “Even if you plan to continue preparing your own meals, you probably won’t be cooking as much,” explains Walton. “You no longer need more than one skillet, two crock pots, and six cookie sheets.”
- Clearly label boxes.
This is especially important when the “packers” are not the “unpackers” (which is often the case in a long-distance move). To avoid any disconnect, Walton looks to other members of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), a nationwide network of senior move management professionals.
If Walden has a client moving to a senior community in Kansas City from Denver, he gets on the network and finds a senior move manager in the Colorado area. The move managers work in tandem facilitating a seamless transition when moving to another state.
- Leave Part B for the pros. Walton has experienced firsthand that clients who leave Part B for someone else, preferably a professional in relocation, are much less stressed during their move.
Part B involves things like contacting a reputable estate sale company — something Walton highly recommends. In fact, a good senior move manager should be able to make recommendations based on firsthand experience working with the company.
The estate sale company will take inventory of everything left after Part A is complete and determine which items to sell, which are good for donations, and what stuff goes in the junk pile.
Expert Tip: Choose an estate sale company that doesn’t call it a day immediately after the sale is over. Look for a company that guarantees all remaining items are removed whether it be via a buyout company or through additional donations and coordinating junk removal services. It’s important to work with people who guarantee the residence is empty when they are done, and it’s turned over to the new owner.
Many services in the senior move and relocation industry are unregulated. Here’s a list of resources to help you choose qualified — and in some cases certified, as with NASMM — professionals to ensure your move to a Senior Living community is something to look forward to rather than dread.
EstateSales.net: estate sale company locator
National Estate Sales Association (NESA): Tips on choosing the right estate sale company
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): Tips for choosing reputable movers
Mover Registration Search: check mover’s registration, licensing, and safety rating with the US Department of Transportation
Aging Life Care Association (ALCA): Formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers