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Investing in your Inheritance with Home Staging

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

A few months ago we worked with this seller preparing her dad’s estate house. She saw the value of doing some modest updates and Staging the home in order to gain a larger return for her inheritance. The house sold just days after listing. Thank you Elaine, for allowing me to work with you.

 

“Susan, I still remember the first day I met you and how overwhelming it was to hear all the changes you recommended, but when the last contractor finished everything looked fresh and modern. I’ll never forget the last day of staging when I got to dad's house and saw your completed “work of art.” All I could say was, “It’s PERFECT!”


Moving Elderly Parents: Convincing Mom & Dad

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Read one family's personal account of making the move into assisted living...

 

In 2001, Gail Heimberg had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life. Her 88-year-old mother--a sharp, independent woman who had lived alone in Brooklyn, New York, for most of the latter part of her life--was quickly growing frail. While she used to walk from her home to the neighborhood bakery with ease, navigating the stairs of her circa-1920 apartment building had become a daily battle. "She couldn't walk very well," remembers Heimberg. "And her emphysema had worsened."

 

 

Heimberg knew the discussion she needed to have with her mother, yet like many adult children who were thinking of moving elderly parents, the three words " assisted living facility" seemed foreign, cold and impossible to utter.

 

 

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE - HAVING THAT TOUGH CONVERSATION

A few months passed, and Heimberg got a disturbing call. Her mother had suffered a mild heart attack and had been taken to the hospital. Heimberg used the opportunity to share her concerns with her mother. But when the subject came to moving her mother away from her home, she was met with sharp resistance. "No," said her mother firmly. "I'm not moving."

Those can be the most difficult words a concerned child may hear their elderly parent say. So how does a worried family member convince a recalcitrant parent that moving to a long-term care facility is in their best interest?


TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

When it comes to moving elderly parents and broaching the "nursing home" or "assisted living" conversation, experts like Stella Henry, R.N., author of The Eldercare Handbook (HarperCollins, 2006) say "this is probably one of the hardest decisions a child will ever have to make." Henry, an eldercare specialist who has been featured in Time, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, says many seniors "unrealistically believe they can take care of themselves for the rest of their lives." And that's where their children or other family members can be instrumental in identifying the problem and instigating change.

No matter what the age of your parent, Henry and other experts say now is the time to begin communicating about the future. If you open the lines of communication early on, she says, words like "nursing home" lose their sting later on. That's important, considering that most of Henry's clients approach her with little communication groundwork laid.

 "Ninety-five percent of my clients come to me in crisis situations," says Henry. The result? Confused elders, disorganized yet well-meaning children, and a family in chaos.


THE IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR CONVERSATIONS 

 Avoid these unnecessary results by having regular conversations with your parent about what the future holds. "Make it your problem instead of your parent's problem," adds Henry. "If you say 'you have to do this, or do that, 'you'll lose them. Instead say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you; it makes me worried to see you like this.'"

That's the approach Heimberg ended up taking with her mother. After sharing her serious concerns about her mother's health and safety, the elderly woman slowly came around. "She finally said yes," says Heimberg.

According to Henry, nine out of ten parents don't want to burden their children, and they will often respond to this sort of honest communication. "Parents sometimes hide things from their adult children because they don't want to scare them," she says. Yet, if you show them that you are trying to be their advocate, adds Henry, and that you are genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, it can make all the difference.


THE RESISTANT PARENT - WHAT TO DO

Barry Jacobs, PsyD, a psychologist who has counseled many people in the situation of moving elderly parents, knows how difficult it can be when a parent in need of aging parent care refuses to leave his or her home. While he's quick to say there are no magic strategies or tricks for persuading an elder to move, he suggests that adult children ask their parent to "indulge" them by visiting an assisted living facility.

"Most of us are more likely to change our position and lifestyle if such a transformation is of our own choosing," writes Jacobs in his book, The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers (Guilford Press, 2006). "Placed under duress to change, we typically resist, regardless of the soundness of the other person's arguments."

 And when a parent continually refuses to entertain the idea of moving? "The child needs to back off for the time being," advises Jacobs. But don't give up, he adds, "seek other openings to raise the issue again."

"What I tell adult children is that, unfortunately, sometimes things have to get worse to get better," he says. "It may take the parent falling or being spooked by burglars or having the electricity turned off because he forgot to pay the bills for the realization to dawn that the parent can no longer safely reside in the home. Even then, it may take the strong urgings of health care providers and extended family members for the parent to accept the inevitable." 

If the parent begins to show signs of warming up to the topic, "the child needs to emphasize the parent's right of self-determination but also urge action," adds Jacobs. He suggests structuring the conversation in the following way: "Tell your parent: 'I can't make decisions about how you should run your life. It would make me feel better, though, if we could go together to look at some possible assisted living facilities so that you're better informed about what choices are available. Would you be willing to humor me in that way?'" 

If there is a willingness on the parent's part to visit a senior housing facility, says Jacobs, "the child should proceed post-haste to set up visits at local facilities and point out that most of these facilities will allow an aged individual to try living in them for a week or a month before the person has to decide whether to sell his house and stay in the facility or return home." Experts say that can be the extra bit of comfort that can make the difference for many hesitant seniors.


FORMING A CAREGIVING TEAM

"Caregiving is a family affair," says Henry. That's even more reason to gather your brothers, sisters, children and uncles and aunts together to address an ailing loved ones needs. "Have a meeting and discuss the problem, without the parent present," says Henry.

 For families who have geographic barriers, The National Association of Senior Move Managers can help. Senior Move Managers are professional experts available to guide a family through the transition's emotional and physical aspects. 

 

POWER OF ATTORNEY 

Important items to address include financial issues and who will act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care. "One of the most important things is to decide who will make the critical decisions," says Henry. Though she recommends a family approach to aging parent care, she recommends that one capable person be appointed as the elder's primary advocate. This person, whether a son or daughter or adult grandchild, should be in charge of financial decisions and act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care.

 

MAKING SURE ALL SIBLINGS ARE ON SAME PAGE

When it comes to approaching a parent about making a move, Jacobs says it's vital that all siblings and family members are on the same page. "It's crucial that all the adult siblings are giving their parent the same general message," he says. "It often only takes one disgruntled child who urges the parent to stay in his home to make placement nearly impossible."


AVOID EXTRANEOUS "LUGGAGE"

"When families get together, there can sometimes be personal "luggage" brought to the table," Henry cautions. She says it's best to avoid unnecessary confrontation or sensitive family subjects, for the good of the parent. "These can be emotionally charged issues," she says. "But remember, it's not about your issue, it's about what's best for your parent."

Get more tips on having the "tough conversation" with mom and dad from A Place for Mom CEO, Sean Kell.

 

DEALING WITH THE GUILT 

No matter how smoothly the process goes, children often retain guilt about moving elderly parents to a long-term care facility. Jacobs cautions against that. "What I point out to adult children is that, regardless of whether they promised to never put a parent in a nursing home, the decision about placement must be based on what's best for the parent at a given time," he says.

"Often, putting a parent in a nursing home is the most loving act that a child can do because it improves the quality of the parent's life from medical and social perspectives," Jacobs continues. "Nursing homes vary in quality but are not snake pits. Parents often thrive in them, to their great surprise."

While Heimberg admits she had moments when she questioned her decision, she eventually felt peace about her mother's move, knowing it was the right decision. After two and a half years in the facility, her mother passed away at the age of 91. She credits the residence for making her mother's final years the best they could be. "I felt like it extended her life," she remembers. "She was cared for and watched over. Finding the right facility is so important, and we were lucky."


Downsizing the Painless Way

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

Moving to a smaller residence means getting rid of stuff – a conundrum that faces many seniors as well as families. A move manager can help you get through the downsizing process with less stress and mess.


Downsizing the Painless Way

 

 

About 66% of retirees plan to pay for senior living through the sale of their home, according to one recent study – and yet for many of us, the tough decisions, overwhelming details and intense emotions associated with moving end up delaying a much-needed move by an average of nine months. Learn more about move managers and how they can assist you in downsizing in a painless way.

 

 

Why Is Downsizing So Difficult?

 

 

If you’ve been living in the same home for many years, it can be difficult to even think about giving up treasured possessions to move to a smaller house or apartment, let alone figure out what to give up and how to get rid of it. Trusted friends and loved ones can help, but sometimes the task feels like it’s too much. If that’s the case for you, then you may want to consider speaking to a professional move manager before you begin the process of downsizing. Move managers can help you lower your stress, avoid family drama and perhaps even save your sanity. Especially when it comes to moving as a senior to a smaller residence, such as an assisted living apartment.

 

 

According to Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, the 21st century has brought with it a “perfect storm” of circumstances to challenge those seniors who do want to downsize:

 

 

There are more older people now than at any other time in history.

 

More families are being dispersed throughout large geographic areas.

 

Rather than aging in place, there has been a boom in the construction of assisted living and independent living communities.

 

Goods have never been cheaper and shopping has never been easier. This makes downsizing a challenge.

 

The increasing necessity of the two-income household limits the time and availability of adult children to efficiently help their older parent.

 

How a Move Manager Can Help Seniors and Families Downsize

 

 

Moving is much more than simply putting your stuff in boxes and hiring a moving truck. Especially in a move to a smaller residence, you need to consider important questions of how much to take, what to take and where to put it when you get there.

 

 

When Katie Munoz’s father passed away ten years ago, and her mother moved into a retirement community, Munoz realized how much work it truly was to downsize. At the time, she was a program manager in the software industry. After going through nearly three months of helping her mother move, Munoz decided she wanted to make the process easier for others, and started her business Moving Forward, which specializes in retirement downsizing.

 

 

“When they’re downsizing, people usually take too much,” says Munoz. Move managers can help with all of that: sorting, packing, helping you organize an estate sale or gifts to charity, even being there on moving day so that everything is done for you when you arrive at your new place. A move manager can also help seniors and families declutter if they need to make room for other things, like in-home safety equipment or a caregiver, or with making walkways wide enough to be easy to navigate. They can even help if your loved one has a tendency towards hoarding, an issue which affects many of our readers.

 

 

Munoz starts by asking plenty of questions, in order to figure out what’s going on with the family and where they need the most help. Some customers need strategies for approaching the whole project; others need someone to help them do the physical work of packing.

Facing the Challenges of Downsizing

 

 

Downsizing can be a real trial, and a move manager is there to help you face the roadblocks that come up. In helping people sort out what to keep, Munoz has them ask themselves the question “What do I use the most?” rather than: “What can I do without?” With the right amount of communication and preparation, the process of moving and downsizing can be whittled down to as little as two weeks. Of course, sometimes the challenges are rooted in the family’s own dynamics – in that case, if the problem is serious, Munoz might refer them to a care manager. But that doesn’t happen very often.

 

 

Generally, the issues she encounters are minor. Sometimes, for instance, the family doesn’t think they need a move manager. “The sons in the family think they can rent a truck and do it. They forget that downsizing isn’t about moving stuff. It’s organizing the move and making mom feel included in the move.” Besides that, there are so many things that can go wrong during a move, like misplacing important items or mistakenly packing documents that you need right away. “If you get someone to help, they can steer you around all of these potholes.”

 

 

Munoz’s services cost $85/hour – around $5K total for a move to a two-bedroom apartment in the Seattle area, for example. It’s a price that could be well worth it for many families, saving the time and heartache of struggling through the process on their own. Like most other move managers, she also does consultations by phone. To find a professional and reliable move manager in your area, get in touch with the National Association of Senior Move Managers. They can help you find someone who, like Katie Munoz, truly takes pride and joy in assisting people with the transition to a new home.

 

 

“You see so much of the inside of life,” she says. “We see the most personal details of somebody’s life when we help them. We get a lot of hugs, which makes it all so rewarding. 


6 Benefits of Using a Senior Move Manager

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Moving is a stressful ordeal, but when you are an adult child moving your senior parent from one home to another, there is an added layer of complexity. Who will lead the charge on downsizing? Who will coordinate an estate sale? Who will deal with the sale of the home? More importantly, who will make sure that Mom and/or Dad and their lifetime of possessions are being treated with respect and dignity?


 

 

6 Benefits of Using a Senior Move Manager to Move Your Aging Parents

  

Today, families are dispersed over vast geographical areas and may not have the bandwidth to be organized and thoughtful in helping their senior parent move homes. The adult child might not have the capacity to deal with all the moving details much less the ability or patience to work through the entire process at a pace that is comfortable for the senior parent. Where the adult child may look at their parent’s possessions as just “stuff,” to a senior parent, it’s a lifetime of memories. This is how having an expert can take away family stress and ensure the most efficient and dignified move for the senior.

 

 

We had the opportunity to interview Mary Kay Buysse, M.S., Executive Director at National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), and received valuable advice on how to deal with the complexities around moving a senior parent, and the benefits of using a Senior Move Manager to organize the move.

 

 

What is a Senior Move Manager?

A Senior Move Manager is a project manager who specializes in project managing moves for seniors. As a trade association with an organizational accreditation program, NASMM members must abide by a strict code of ethics to ensure integrity in the industry and the seniors they serve. Developed 12 years ago out of a clear need for a cohesive organization; NASMM now has over 800 members across the U.S., across Canada and several European countries.

  

Buysse explains that their earliest members started with their own families, within their own neighborhoods and churches. In fact, 99% of NASMM members came into the Senior Move Management profession through a personal experience after seeing how completely overwhelming and daunting it was for their own families, it’s only natural that NASMM has a mission to “facilitate the physical and emotional aspects of relocation for older adults” with compassion and integrity. Buysse shares, “We always say you can do well for yourself by doing good for others, and that’s really our mission and one of the things I can’t stress enough.”

  

“Time is flying by and people just don’t have enough of it,” says Buysse. “While we can purchase goods cheaply, our time is more expensive than ever; time is the rarest commodity of all. With the growing parallel to this aging population, families being dispersed and families not having enough time – the environment was just right for something like Senior Move Management to occur, and we’re really proud of it.”

 

 

Top Reasons You Should Use a Senior Move Manager

  

1. Eliminates the Potential for Financial Exploitation

“It’s very difficult work,” shares Buysse. “We’re dealing with people who are frail, people who have memory loss, people who have suffered a great deal of loss – loss of spouse a best friend, driving privilege and loss of hearing or sight. This is not for the faint of heart. This is difficult work, but, is absolutely the most gratifying work.”

  

NASMM members must maintain high standards and follow a strict code of ethics. Along with accreditation, NASMM offers its members self-study training and must have two letters of recommendation. Members must also have general liability insurance, take classes in ethics and safety, and provide a signed contract to protect both the move manager and the senior’s irreplaceable items like photos.

  

2. Downsize in an Organized and Dignified Manner

  

Before Senior Move Management existed, the way a senior was moved out of their home that they lived in for 30, 40 or 50 years was done very expediently. Often over a weekend, adult children would fly in and only be able to give a few days to the move and order a dumpster to be parked in the driveway. That home that took 40 or 50 years to build was downsized in 48 hours, buy adult children who hadn’t lived in it for 25 years.

 

 Senior Move Managers acknowledge the time it took to accumulate the lifetime of possessions, so they take the time to go through everything with the senior parent, whether it takes weeks or months. Even if no move is involved at all and the senior needs help downsizing clutter in their home, the move managers will do all of the same things as if they were moving through a program called [email protected]

  

3. Gives More Control to Seniors

  

Roughly 50% of seniors that NASMM moves are into a congregate living community, including assisted living, independent living and memory care. Sometimes, it is a senior moving in with an adult child, or a senior apartment that’s in a multi-generational building that is in the middle of town. If it’s a really independent senior, sometimes it is two older women who are sisters where both have lost their husbands and have decided to move in together.

  

Wherever the senior is making the move to, it’s important to ensure that they feel in control of the move. “It’s a win-win situation because the older adult feels like the have directed the move,” says Buysse. “They don’t feel like they are being placed somewhere, instead, they feel like they are choosing to live somewhere else.”

  

4. Expert Attention to Detail 

 

Most Senior Move Managers are accomplished women who have found move management as a post-retirement career. With professional backgrounds including nursing, marketing and even information technology, most move managers have expert project management skills. Because teachers often retire with their full pension by 50 or 55, NASMM has a large membership of retired teachers.

  

NASMM Senior Move Managers moved over 75,000 seniors last year and expect to move around 100,000 seniors this year. Since it took many years for seniors to accumulate their lifetime of possessions, the move managers will work with the older adult for weeks, sometimes months, prior to the move and go through everything to determine what can be repurposed, recycled and sold. “There’s a lot of options and the dumpster is the last resort,” says Buysse.


The move manager will take digital photos of the entire content of the house and place them on a protective card of her website and send a link to all the family members around the country so that the family can also weigh in on what should be done, and arrange shipment or storage of goods until a decision is made. The move manger will connect the family with an estate sale expert, or sometimes even conducts the estate sale themselves. They will also help with placing the home up for sale through real estate agents in their network and arrange for moving and cleaning services. Anything that is donated, the move manager ensures that the donations are documented and tax deductible.

  

NASMM works with Habitat for Humanity and Move for Hunger, and the move manager determines what can be donated and repurposed for another family. “Using a move manager is not very expensive as much of the move can be paid for by a sale of goods or a tax deduction of goods,” says Buysse.

 

 5. Decreases Family Stress 

 

A Senior Move Manager helps make the transition to a new home smoother for the entire family, especially the senior, as they will feel like they chose it. “Families often have a lot of emotional baggage,” says Buysse. “There’s a lot of history, and some of it is not the best history. So, when an adult child is not really a close confidant of the parent, or a caregiver of the parent, they might create more friction at a time when families really need each other.”

 

 By having an expert manage the move, it helps take away a lot of stress for everyone involved, help to keep families from fighting about what is best for Mom or Dad, and ensures that the best interest of the senior is being kept in focus. 

 

6. Solves Problems You Never Anticipated


Because Senior Move Managers are project managing these moves daily, “they have all kinds of creative tools at their fingertips, things you or I would never even think of,” says Buysse.

  

Buysse shares an example of a move manager working with a woman in her 80s. She had been an executive’s wife – her husband had been the CEO of a small company – and she had done a lot of international travel. During her travels, the 80-year-old had acquired a large collection of teapots, 85 of them in total. “She was absolutely despondent over the fact that this move could mean for the first time in 50 years that those teapots would not be with her,” says Buysse. “She was moving from 5,000 square feet to 500 square feet.”

  

The move manager suggested that the senior woman select her top three favorite teapots to take with her to her new home to place into her dinette cabinet in her new assisted living apartment. Then, the move manager took digital photos of the other 82 teapots, had a poster made at Walgreens for $20, and had it framed at a framing store for another $50. All of the beautiful teapots the senior woman had collected all these years could now live on as artwork to hang in her dinette to look at every day and share with people where she got each one. 

 

“These are the thoughtful kinds of things that an expert who is moving seniors every day does versus a family member will do this either once or twice in their lifetime,” says Buysse. “That is the difference they make.”

 

 


 



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