Moving aging loved ones from Westchester County, NY or Fairfield County, CT, from their home after 30, 40, or even 50 years can be overwhelming and stressful for all involved. When my parents decided to move from their White Plains, NY home in Westchester County to a Continuum Care community in Stamford, CT in Fairfield County, they were overwhelmed by the task of downsizing to a two-bedroom apartment minus a yard. My sister and I knew this upcoming move was the best option for them - an instant social life, access to 24/7 medical care, and a vibrant community. We were so grateful they made this informed decision on their own rather than having us intervene and assertively nudge them into their next chapter. With only my sister living in Garden City, NY in Nassau County the majority of the move logistics unfortunately fell on her shoulders. Lucky for my parents, my sister had a relocation moving business in her 20s and was a seasoned professional to help accomplish this.
Local Moving Managers to the Rescue
Here in Westchester County and Fairfield County, we fortunately have access to services and moving professionals to help our senior parents when the time comes. Meet Serena Bechtel and Crissy Robinson, two Greenwich moms and long-time friends, to the rescue. Above and Beyond, is their brainchild business to assist with decluttering and moving no matter how long you have been in your home.
“My parents had been in the same house for 46 years,” says Serena. “It was crammed with not only my parents’ possessions, but my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ stuff. My mom realized a few years ago that she needed to go through it and I offered to help. We didn’t get very far because we both were far too emotionally attached. We needed an independent person to come in and help us make the tough choices.”
From this experience, Serena realized how invaluable it is to have a kind, thoughtful outside expert assist with emotional transitions such as moves and decluttering. As she likes to say, "Having an intermediary advise us literally saved our relationship and got the job done. You can reach Crissy and Serena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top Moving Tips for Seniors
1. Clutter Management
Wading through your loved ones belongings may be difficult both emotionally and physically. Try beginning this process of culling through the belongings in their home long before you even have the discussion about moving. While decluttering with your parents, make three piles: To keep, to donate and to throw away. Hiring an organizational professional can help to jump start this process and alleviate inter-generational stress.
Regarding a storage rental space, Crissy added, “Do not rent a storage unit unless it will be very temporary. Storage spaces are expensive and add up over the months and once the items are not seen, it is easy to forget about them and keep paying the monthly storage fee. If they are storing something longer than a few months, you can take this as a hint they no longer need the items and they can be donated sooner rather than later.”
2. Memories Saved
Your parents most likely have boxes and albums of old family photos from every holiday, vacation and birthday. Transfer as many photos and videos and old films as you can onto a hard drive or shared photo service such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. Make the process easier as these services offer photo album production and you can do this alongside your parents to get their input. Now it has become a fun family photo album project rather than a laborious chore.
Downsize their book collections to just their most cherished, valuable collections or ones to pass down to children. Books occupy space and are heavy to move. Consider donations to libraries, schools, senior centers, or used bookstores. Call a book dealer for older books with potential value or access a book app such as Bookscouter.
4. Get Rid of Chemicals, Paints and Old Cleaning products
Put together a separate box of household, yard, and automotive cleaning products, as well as paint, that are considered hazardous. Visit earth911.org for more information on hazardous collection in your area o call your town hall to learn about local hazardous waste pick-up days.
5. Plan The Space Ahead
If you can access a floor plan of their new residence, you can help your parents determine the pieces of furniture that will fit into their new home, and the best location of each. This too can be a fun project to decorate the new space.
6. Digital Afterlife
Make sure your aging loved ones have a list of all their passwords for their digital accounts. If they were to pass away, you and your siblings will be left to deal with their affairs - both analog and digital. The trend in data storage, especially among mobile devices, is encryption and total data security. To gain access to a deceased loved one’s Apple ID, iTunes, or iCloud account information, you can contact Apple Support. Apple Support will ask for identifying information, such as a death certificate of the user, and proof of relation. Apple Support does, of course, often err on the side of caution when it comes to releasing information on another user’s account. You may have to access and pay for a forensic digital service to help you obtain entry to that data.
7. Pack a Moving “Survival Bag”
Pack a duffle bag for easy access with a few days supplies for any emergency such as a weather event or even for moving day. It might include personal needs (medications, eyeglasses, toiletries, change of clothes, important papers, etc); kitchen needs (snacks, drinks, folding chair, disposable cups plates); basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, flashlight, tape, etc.); cleaning supplies (sponge, roll of paper towels, soap, etc.).
Although specific services vary, most Senior Move specialists can help with some or all of the following:
- Developing an overall move or "age in place" plan
- Organizing, sorting and downsizing
- Customized floor plans
- Arranging for the profitable disposal of unwanted items through auction, estate sale, buy-out, consignment, donation, or a combination of the above
- Interviewing, scheduling and overseeing movers
- Arranging shipments and storage
- Supervise and oversight of professional packing
- Unpacking and setting up the new home
- Related services, such as cleaning, waste removal, shopping, senior escort, assisting with selection of a realtor and helping prepare the home to be sold.
Where Can You Find Help Moving Your Parents?
National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) represents professionals specializing in helping older adults and their families through the daunting process of transitioning to a new residence. NASMM has a guide to provide you with tips and checklists to enhance your moving experience. To download a printable .pdf version, link here: NASMM Guide To Moving
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About STEPS Home Care
STEPS Home Care is a family, female, and locally owned Licensed Home Care Services Agency with offices in White Plains, NY, Stamford, CT, and Garden City, NY. Our goal is simple. Provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind by using 3 guiding principles: FAMILY, PASSION, and STABILITY.