This is the thirtieth in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.
Perhaps you are considering moving to a retirement community, but when you look at the house you’ve lived in for ten or twenty or forty years, you feel discouraged. You remember how hard it was to organize and pack everything the last time you moved – and that may have been decades ago.
You have a sneaking suspicion that you just can’t get there from here, and even though you’d like to move and enjoy life without all the work involved in keeping a house, you start to think that your executor will be the one who will finally figure out what to do with your old high school yearbooks, 5-1/4” floppy disks from your first computer, forty years of tax returns, shoeboxes of photos, the suitcase that’s perfectly good except for one broken zipper, clothes you haven’t worn since Bill Clinton was president, old VCRs and cell phones, and the always growing pile of mystery keys in the junk drawer.
You remember wistfully your favorite quotation from Henry David Thoreau in high school: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” Somehow, you have strayed from that idea.
You vaguely realize that you might be moving from, say, a 2,500-square-foot house into perhaps an 800-square-foot apartment. Is there any hope? Absolutely!
Enter the “Senior Move Manager,” a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). According to its website, “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’. . . 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.”
See the NASMM website at www.nasmm.org for more information and for a free brochure called “Your Guide to Stress-Free Rightsizing and Relocation.”
At one end of the spectrum, Senior Move Managers may simply work with an individual or couple to develop a customized master plan for their move. Individuals and family members then perform the tasks indicated.
At the other end of the spectrum, a Senior Move Manager may personally perform or arrange for the performance of every single task, such as deciding what to keep, giving away or selling the rest, packing, moving, unpacking – and even hanging pictures in the new home, preparing the vacated house for sale, and selecting a Realtor.
Barbara Kult, the owner of In Your Space Consulting (www.inyourspaceaz.com), is a Senior Move Manager who serves north and central Arizona, including the Prescott area. She can help people move to and from other parts of the country as well.
She explained that when someone hires her, she starts by asking a series of questions that helps her clients clarify what is important to them. She also obtains floor plans of the home that they will be moving into, typically an independent living or assisted living apartment, or even a room in a long-term care (nursing) or hospice facility.
With this information, she can help her clients visualize how their belongings will fit in their new home, and can provide guidance as she helps them to sort through their belongings and decide what to keep and what to let go of.
She commented, “I do all the physical work. I try to involve clients as much as possible in the decision-making,” although about a quarter of the time, she is hired by an adult child who is making arrangements to move a parent with dementia or another illness, and the person moving may have a limited ability to make decisions. In these cases, she works closely with both people to get the best results possible for the person moving.
Kult noted, “Through careful planning and compassion, we have only had positive experiences for my clients and for me. I really love what I do. It is very gratifying. I respectfully enter people’s lives to help them at a challenging time. I try to meet people where they are.”
Next week’s column will go into more detail about the senior move process.