By Max Greenberg
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About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living communi... (More)
About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living community. I live in Palo Alto with my wife and we have three grown children, one still in college. I have been in the Bay Area since 1977 (except for seven years in Newton MA — just missed all that snow too much.) I've worked in sales and marketing in retirement communities for seven years, and have hired and managed home care workers for family members, and have a pretty good idea of how aging in place, or shopping for and selecting the right retirement community works. I now run my own business, Palo Alto Senior Living, providing real estate and senior transition services. This blog is designed to share my experiences, insight and knowledge with seniors and their baby boomer kids and provide useful information to help develop a roadmap for smooth transitions or aging in place. I welcome readers to share their experiences, both good and not-so-good, in the hope that we all can benefit from each other. (Hide)
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When it comes to their personal lives and houses, most folks like to go it alone as much as they can. As we age, “going it alone” can become more of a challenge, physically as well as mentally. One area where it can often make sense to “work with a pro” is when it comes to preparing to move and trying to figure out what to do with all your stuff. After living in your home for decades, there's a lot of "stuff" that needs to be carefully sorted through in preparing to move to what is usually a smaller condo or apartment home in a senior retirement community. Delaying the move until you've had the time to do it yourself or with the help of well-intentioned family or friends can be the difference between getting to the new community while you are still independent enough to pass the health qualifiers, or not. Over the past 5 years when I was working in retirement communities, there were a number of folks who were ready to move in physically and mentally, but were not open to the idea of hiring someone to help them with the downsizing, and move planning part of the transition. There were a few folks who had serious accidents trying to do it all themselves. There were others who by the time, in some cases a couple of years later, that they were finally ready to make the actual move, one of the couple was no longer health-qualified to move into independent living. Those were very sad outcomes of not accepting help with a very demanding task. (In some cases I suspected that choosing to “do it by myself” was actually a way to unconsciously delay the move until it was too late to make the move.)
Even if you are preparing to “age in place” which I prefer to call “remaining independent in your own or a smaller home”, there are tremendous benefits to have someone come in to help you de-clutter and lighten-the-load of a home sometimes stuffed to the gills with stuff.
I’ve worked with and referred a number of downsizing companies over the years and there are some wonderful, gentle, sensitive professionals out there that can take the load off both you and your kids. It is often an emotional process to go through and having someone there with your interests top-of-mind can make all the difference. Professional move managers can help you sort, sell, donate, and decide exactly what will fit in the new home (based on your new needs and the floor plan.) These move managers can also provide referrals to reliable packing and moving companies they have coordinated with for a smooth transition. The move managers can meet the movers at your new home, unpack, arrange the furniture, and set up your home for you.
Most move management companies offer a free in-home consultation and can give you an estimate, usually based on an hourly rate, to do the entire job for you, with you, or one part of the job. They are generally very flexible. Of course make sure they have the right insurance and ask for references you can call yourself. (Tip: Some retirement communities will offer to reimburse you or give you a credit towards the use of a downsizing company. Never hurts to ask…)