Archive for Moving and Downsizing
Dismantling the Nest
By Christine E. Smart
After settling Mr. and Mrs. Jones into their new home, we made our way back to their former residence to continue liquidation of the items left behind. Often the most trivial things in this world grab my attention, and they are sometimes the hardest to handle.
On shelves in the sun room sat a unique collection of birds, bird houses, and a bird nest. I really didn’t want to break up this beautiful display, but our job includes emptying the former home to prepare for the new owners. I removed the bird houses, then the birds, and finally went for the nest. It was so fragile and so beautifully made! Layers of paper-thin leaves placed just so, twigs and other small materials all woven so carefully to make it perfectly round and deep. I held it in my hands – I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it into the trash. I decided to put it into a plastic bag, but as I did the nest began to disintegrate. Small, delicate pieces of leaf and debris broke away and collected at the bottom of the bag. Suddenly I thought of my dear clients and the work and love that went into making this house a home. Years of collecting things, many items left over from past seasons of life: pictures, papers, and awards from the kids; the vase that graced the top of the buffet just right; the colorful pillows and rugs that welcomed guests into the living room; remnants of past hobbies; etc. In only a few short weeks this home had been dismantled and like the disturbed nest, crumbs and debris surfaced. Things suddenly looked worn, chipped, broken, and sun-faded. The nest had changed. All that was once carefully placed with purpose was sifted out to find what was of value. What remained would be donated or discarded.
There is no escaping dismantling the nest – it has to be done. Otherwise, the beloved nest becomes a burden to the rest of the family. You don’t have to miss out on saying a fond “good bye” to the treasures you have enjoyed. Relive the story one more time: hold the souvenir from the summer vacation; remember the shop where you found that lovely chipped tea cup. Your stories will live on.
Dismantling the nest is for the brave. It is hard, often emotional work. It is laughter and tears. It is also new stories of how pieces of the nest blessed someone else in need. I cherish being a part of all of it, cheerleading alongside our clients, showing them the way, finding the resources, and putting together a new, more manageable nest to help them enjoy the next chapter of life.
Copyright 2013 by Christine E. Smart
The thoughts have danced across your mind… “Should I really move? Maybe we should downsize? Some of this stuff just has to go?” Those thoughts are quickly pushed aside with the reality of seeing too much stuff to deal with. How do you get rid of things, who do you call, is your treasured collection worth anything these days, how in the world would you ever get moved, can I afford it? Then there is the realization of the cost of continued home repairs and maintenance.
Moving to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a one-stop move. You are able to move into independent apartments and receive care as you need it through long term nursing care. When you compare the costs for staying in your home, which include everything from homeowners insurance, and property taxes, along with various costs like cable, security, and housekeeping, versus the one monthly fee at the CCRC, it makes financial sense to move.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau: Starting this year and through the next 19 years, 11,000 people will turn 65 years old every day. There is a tidal wave of older adults wanting independent and assisted living coming! Currently there is an abundance of independent living apartments, and communities are offering discounts and specials to move in. Take advantage of these offers before supply and demand drive the prices up.
Studies have shown that older adults who move while they are still in control transition better. We have yet to work with a client who enjoys the exhausting process of moving. When our team at Designing Moves LLC provides guidance with decisions and helps with needs, the stress leaves our clients’ faces.
Emergency decisions are not always best and it’s hard to control where you may end up living if you have a fall or sudden illness. Waiting too long to move means someone else will be making the decisions about your treasures, and it may not be what you want!
Many times families don’t live near by and if they do they are busy with their families and careers. That is where the help of a senior move manager makes the impossible possible. Designing Moves LLC provides solutions to all those questions that glare at you when you open the closet door. We can help you decide what items will fit in your new place, where the best place is to donate or dispose of items, or what items might be worth getting a second opinion on.
We bring peace of mind by handling all the moving day details from directing the movers, to setting up the new home, unpacking and removing boxes, and following up with you to see how you are doing in your new home. We can stop by weeks after the move and take those things that you thought you wanted, but have since decided you would rather live without.
What is the best plan? Start now, one room at a time, one drawer at a time, and begin to sift through your stuff. Get an expert involved who is knowledgeable about antiques, collectables, etc. Decide now who should inherit grandma’s paintings, the family silver, or the Amana rocker and give the family a written list of these decisions. Find a place you would like to live and let Designing Moves LLC help you move in with your favorite things. Begin to enjoy your new life without the burden of household chores or repairs. Your kids will thank you for it – it’s the best gift you can give yourself and your family!
The survey of 600 adults ages 45 to 65, conducted for the HomeInstead Senior Care network, also found:
• 31% don’t know how many medications their parents take.
• 34% don’t know whether their parents have a safe deposit box or where the key is.
• 36% don’t know where their parents’ financial information is located.
“The majority of caregivers we work with have done no advance planning,” says Jeff Huber, president of Home Instead Senior Care, a company that provides non-medical care services. “It is not important until it’s urgent. So much stress and uncertainty down the road can
be prevented.” Lack of planning can lead to serious complications when decisions need to be made quickly, says palliative care nurse practitioner Mimi Mahon, an associate professor at George Mason University in Virginia.
“It’s vitally important to plan ahead and have these conversations with parents, or families can act out of fear and make mistakes when emergencies arise.”
Prescription drugs are of particular concern. In the survey, 49% couldn’t name a single drug their parents took. Ask parents about their medications and, if necessary, do research, experts say. Find out the dose, what it’s for, who prescribed it and why. People 65 and older account for about a third of all medications prescribed in the
U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health, and older patients are more likely to have long-term and multiple prescriptions, which could lead to unintentional misuse.
“It’s kind of a never-ending process for caregivers,” says Sandy Markwood, head of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. “It gets further complicated when there is more than the family practitioner. A parent might have several specialists. It’s a lot for a caretaker to keep
Markwood says the Administration on Aging, also under HHS, has been encouraging better record-keeping by seniors and stronger communication between seniors and caretakers since Hurricane Katrina.
“Then you had a situation when seniors were evacuated without their medications and no one knew what medications they were on,” Markwood says. “Doctors had to start from scratch.”
One must-have answer for caretakers:What drugs can parents go without and which ones must be taken on schedule. For instance, blood pressure and anti-depressant medications cannot be missed, Mahon says. The bottom line, she says, is being a staunch advocate for your parents’ health care starts with “having conversations and putting plans in place.”
Source: Janice Lloyd, USA Today, June 21, 2011
Tip from Kovels – June 2011 issue
Storing collectibles now and hoping they’ll go up in value later may or may not be a good idea. Storing pottery, glass and metal in a dry attic or basement is usually OK, but not if the rooms get very hot (over 90 degrees) or very cold (below freezing). Furniture can dry out or rot in climates you don’t enjoy yourself. Linens attract insects. Be wary of plastic bags that could melt in high heat. Plastic jewelry, toys and purses can melt or disintegrate over time; heat destroys plastic. Rented storage should be air-conditioned and heated, but it’s expensive. If you don’t have room or the right conditions for storage, it might be better to sell – even at low prices.
A Life-or-Death Decision: Your Home
By Scott Burns
BOERNE, Texas—Most of the people in the room have gray or white hair. I count 24 when I arrive. At 70, it isn’t often that I lower the average age when I enter a room. Here, I do. The women outnumber the men 2-to-1. This would have filled me with raw delight at a college mixer 50 years ago. Today it is a blunt reminder: Women live longer than men.
I’ve come to listen to Rick Hunsicker. He’s a retirement community marketing consultant, and he is here to map out our shelter choices as we get old. We’re meeting at Morningside Ministries at Menger Springs in Boerne, a canonic but fast-growing Texas town west of San Antonio. Our meeting place is a continuing-care retirement community, known as a CCRC in the trade. It’s where an older person can live independently—but without lawn-mowing or meal-preparation chores. When, and if, necessary you can move to assisted-living or nursing care—all on the same beautiful 34 acres.
I have a personal interest in this. Several years ago I urged a lovely and funny Dallas friend to move to a retirement community. A move, I thought, was the best way for her to deal with a situation that would be manageable in a retirement community—but impossible in her home of 40 years. She didn’t move. It was too difficult. Not long after, she committed suicide.
A few years before that, I had urged my stepfather to sell his duplex in Sarasota, Fla. Move to a CCRC, I suggested. But he didn’t, or couldn’t. Finally he collapsed, exhausted after weeks of daily visits to my stepmother in a nursing home after she had had a stroke. He might have lived years longer—if they had moved before his late-night fall.
Stories in this genre don’t have happy endings. Sadly, few people understand that where you live can literally be a life-or-death decision. The problem here is that we freeze up as we get older. In decades of reader letters, I’ve seen the single greatest error people make is being tied to their homes, even if it kills them.
That’s where Rick Hunsicker comes in. Over the course of 90 minutes, he walks us through the real costs of owning a house. Then he adds the invisible cost of owning a house when you no longer have a mortgage—what economists call the “imputed income” from not having to pay rent. He points out that while your house may be your biggest asset, it is also a major point of vulnerability, subject to repairs and big-ticket replacement costs.
He asks, “What happens if a few of your neighbors are foreclosed and their $300,000 house is sold for $250,000?” The question is rhetorical. “You’ve just lost $50,000,” he says. That’s one of the really bad effects of the enormous overhang of unsold and foreclosed houses across the country.
Then he walks us through a checklist of services that are part of living in a retirement community—meals you no longer have to prepare, housekeeping, transportation, fitness facilities, pool, security, basic cable, Internet access and the proximity of medical care. It’s a long list. Aging homeowners need to buy those things off an expensive a la carte menu, one at a time. In a retirement community, it’s part of the deal.
He’s serious about this side-by-side comparison. Press him, as I had done a few weeks earlier, and he’ll show you his spreadsheet for making the comparison. Put in accurate numbers for the cost of supporting your house and the cost of the other services, and a move that seems expensive can be good economics, as well as a better way to age-in-place.
Many retirees, he points out, are paralyzed. They think they will wait for the housing market to recover before they sell their homes. In the same period, he says, the cost of entering a retirement community will also rise. Why? Because building is at a standstill even though the need continues to grow. At the moment there is overcapacity, so retirement communities around the country are offering special deals and discounts.
The implication: Sell a bargain to get a bargain. It isn’t taking a loss; it’s changing to a better horse.
(Hinsdale, IL – February 1, 2011) — The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) announced today that Christine Smart of Designing Moves LLC, Marion, IA, has successfully completed NASMM’s “Old Like Me” Aging Sensitivity Intensive Training and has earned a Certificate of Achievement.
This program was offered in conjunction with the National Association of Senior Move Managers 2011 Annual Conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida in January. Participants completed a three-hour intensive program facilitated by Vanessa M. Dazio, OTD, OTR/L, CEAS II, NBCCH.
This innovative workshop provided participants with the unique opportunity to literally “walk in the shoes” of an older adult through a series of hands-on exercises and comprehensive sensory perception education. “There are so many common misconceptions about older adults and the aging process,” said Mary Kay Buysse, NASMM’s Executive Director. “This training program allowed select participants to experience the sensory losses associated with aging, while enhancing their awareness of disabling factors, hazards, barriers and conditions that can ultimately influence an older adult’s quality of life.”
As part of the training, participants discussed the impact of the sensory, physical and mental declines they experienced. “I have a broader understanding of what it feels like to be old today,” said Christine Smart. “The aging sensitivity training provided me with a heightened awareness of the hidden, but complex barriers that guide how I serve my senior clients, as well as helped me to identify new strategies to assist my clients in coping with age-related changes.”
Designing Moves LLC started in 2008 with a passion to help older adults with downsizing and moving.
The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) is a not-for-profit, professional association of organizations dedicated to assisting older adults and families with the physical and emotional demands of downsizing, relocating, or modifying their homes. As the only professional association in North America devoted to helping the rapidly increasing 55+ population with middle and later life transition issues, NASMM members are committed to maximizing the dignity and autonomy of all older adults. NASMM is internationally recognized for its innovative programs, leadership and expertise on issues related to senior move management, transition and relocation issues affecting older adults. For more information, visit www.nasmm.org.
December 30, 2010, 10:00 am
When Moving Seems ImpossibleBy PATRICK EGAN
Patricia Wendler had been trying to sell her Southport, N.C., home for four years. Just before Thanksgiving, she finally got an offer, with one major contingency: Mrs. Wendler, 80, had less than three weeks to move, or no deal.
She and her husband, who died in 2008, had retired to Southport 16 years ago from New Hartford, N.Y. In that time, the Wendlers had accumulated furniture that wouldn’t fit in her new apartment, tools she wouldn’t need and years upon years of paperwork. “I kind of stored everything,” she said.
Her daughter-in-law, June Wendler, described the task of relocation as a “tornado.” She called Jane Roberts, a senior move manager in Wilmington, N.C., for help.
Initially, Patricia Wendler was not thrilled.
“I was a little resentful,” she said. “Why would I need someone like that? I’m not used to having people do things for me.”
The Wendlers are among more than 50,000 families to hire a certified senior move manager this year, up from 30,000 just two years ago, according to the National Association of Senior Move Managers. These services don’t come cheap: Most move managers charge $25 to $60 per hour. A top-to-bottom move can require several days of planning, packing and unpacking, running $1,500 to $4,000 or more — not including the cost of the actual movers.
Despite the expense, many families are finding senior move managers indispensable, and not just because they handle the logistics. Tensions can spill over when an elderly parent must relocate. Hundreds of necessary decisions and actions can swallow time the family may not have; the inevitable negotiations and concessions can trouble even the best parent-child relationships.
Surveys show that the elderly overwhelmingly wish to remain in their long-term homes, and to many of them moving represents a loss of control. “These moves usually are precipitated by something that’s happened — a health crisis, a death of a spouse, a loss of driving ability,” said Margit Novack, a senior move manager in Philadelphia.
A good move manager helps to clear a path to the new home while ensuring that the senior is always in control, regardless of who made the first call. “These people don’t want anyone telling them what to do. You have to walk a very fine line,” said Ms. Roberts.
“We become their surrogate friend or surrogate daughter,” added Judy Rough, a senior move manager in Phoenix.
By taking the adult children out of the driver’s seat, a manager can help circumvent family hostilities. “It really lets the adult child be their companion in the journey. The adult child isn’t the bad cop,” said Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of N.A.S.M.M. “It really lets the family be the family.”
In Southport last month, Ms. Roberts helped Mrs. Wendler sort through what to keep and what to donate to charity. She packed everything, hired the movers and then unpacked in the new apartment. She even photographed the interior of Mrs. Wendler’s former home so as to reproduce the layout as closely as possible, making sure that if the toothbrush sat on the right side of the sink, that’s exactly where Mrs. Wendler would find it in the new apartment.
Ms. Roberts’s efforts won over Mrs. Wendler. “She did things I never would’ve thought of,” said Mrs. Wendler. “She was just perfect.”
Printed in The New York Times Dec. 30, 2010
A gentle reminder that sometimes our “stuff” controls us! Please take some time and look around your home, check your closets, drawers, end tables, night stands, the junk drawer, etc. Take one area at a time, pick up an item and ask yourself: Do I love this? Does it bring me pleasure? Do I keep it here because I use it? Or is the item here because I don’t know what to do with it, it’s useful and I might need it someday? If you answer “yes” to the later two questions please consider donating it to your favorite charity.
If you let stuff control you and put off decisions you will soon find yourself overwhelmed. The things that are “worth something” but you don’t use will bury the items you want to use and enjoy. It sets up a perpetual cycle of “I can’t find……” , “Have you seen my…..”, “I need to go buy another because I can’t find the one I had”, etc.
Set yourself free and make a few decisions each day to tackle the things that you let live around you.
When we keep bringing things into our homes and don’t have a place to put it we end up burying the things that mean the most to us. The possessions that do bring us joy and good memories get lost in the clutter and often damaged in the bottom of the pile. As you lighten your load at home your will lighten your spirit as well.
One of the problems with parting with our stuff is the difficulty of disposing of unwanted items. Most towns limit trash to one bag or can and additional bags must have pre-purchased tags. Keep a few tags on hand and try to get rid of the clutter.
Clutter seeps into our homes a little at a time and it can leave the same way. Don’t get overwhelmed with the big mess you see but tackle each area a little at a time.
For a more detailed plan please visit www.flylady.net.
The Method of the Move
by Mary Christenson
April 25th, 2010 Cedar Rapids Gazette
Christine Smart, of Designing Moves in Marion, is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. Here she provides 10 tips on how to downsize your possessions if you’re ready for smaller living quarters.
- Take pictures or videos of your home and heirlooms to share with family members after the move.
- Identify the move day, so you can plan how much help you will need and how fast you will have to work.
- Work through one room at a time to avoid feeling discouraged or overwhelmed. Start in a small room, such as a bathroom.
- For each room, sort items into three containers or bags; Keep, Throw and Donate.
- Identify items to go to family members and put their names on the items.
- For family heirlooms you plan to keep, write down the family story about it. If you don’t know it, reconsider whether the item is worth keeping.
- Schedule an auction, consignment or tag sale to get rid of items that are sell-able.
- Locate charities you want to support that are willing to take your items.
- Don’t underestimate the time to sort through your garage, basement, shed, etc.
- On moving day, always move some items yourself so they aren’t lost or broken; jewelry, financial papers, and valuable items.
You’ve just moved mom into a retirement neighborhood and she is suddenly forgetful, depressed, and can’t sleep. You thought this was the best solution for her care and now things appear worse, what is going on?If this scenario sounds familiar to you be assured, you are not alone! I recently attended a seminar by Gero Soultions at the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) Convention that talked about Relocation Stress and Transfer Trauma. Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) and Transfer Trauma were approved as a diagnosis in the early 1990’s. It refers to a set of symptoms that result from a transfer from one environment to another. The interesting aspect of Relocation Stress Syndrome and Transfer Trauma is that many retirement communities are unaware of it. As a member of NASMM, I feel it is part of my responsibility to educate people on the subject.
The following is an excerpt from “Relocation Stress Syndrome in Older Adults” by Tracy Greene Mintz, MA, MSW, ACSW from Social Work Today Vol. 5 No. 6 P. 38 The full article can be found at: http://www.snapforseniors.com/portals/0/pdfs/relocationstress.pdf
“Symptoms of RSS are the same in all age groups. They can include exhaustion, sleep disturbance, anxiety, financial strain, grief and loss, depression, and disorientation. In older people, these symptoms can quickly become exacerbated by dementia, mild cognitive impairment, poor physical health, frailty, lack of support system, and sensory impairment. Do clients understand why they were relocated? Did they participate in the decision? Can they see and hear sufficiently in their new accommodations to learn their way around a new building or neighborhood? Do they have anyone to help them pack or move? Will they remember that this is no longer their home? Can they keep their doctor? Friends? Pet?
For social workers, RSS symptoms meet the diagnostic criteria for adjustment disorder (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV). Moving is an adjustment that some people make easier than others. Mood and mental changes that can occur include depression, anger, suicidal ideation, confusion, anxiety, and paranoia. Some may exhibit denial by over idealizing the move (Isn’t this place wonderful? Everything is just perfect!). Behaviors we are likely to see in older people are somatic complaints, wandering, aggression, isolation, excessive demands for medical and nonmedical attention, and substance use, abuse, or misuse. Physical signs may include pain, agitation, aggression, incontinence, appetite or weight changes, sleep disturbance, and the most dreaded yet too common—falls. Adjustment disorder can take up to three months to manifest. Those can be three difficult and heart-breaking months for residents, family, and staff. In the Los Angeles facility survey previously mentioned, one third of new residents had an acute hospitalization within 30 days of moving into the residential care facility. At the affiliated nursing home, 11% of new residents passed away within 30 days. If the disorder does not resolve after six months, it is no longer about adjustment, and the relocation may have triggered another chronic illness.”