Dear Savvy Senior: Can you recommend any businesses or services that specialize in helping seniors downsize and relocate? I need to find some help moving my mother from her four-bedroom home — where she’s lived for nearly 50 years — to an apartment near me. — Overwhelmed Daughter
Dear Overwhelmed: The process of downsizing and moving to a new home is a big job for anyone, but it can be especially overwhelming for seniors who are moving from a longtime residence filled with decade’s worth of items and a lifetime of memories. Fortunately, there’s a specialized service available today that can help make your mom’s move a lot easier for her, and for you.
Senior move manager
To help your mom get packed up and moved into her new home, you should consider hiring a “senior move manager.” These are trained organizers (they are not moving companies) who assist older people with the challenges of relocating and can minimize the stress of this major transition by doing most of the work for you.
A senior move manager can help your mom pare down her belongings, decide what to take and what to dispose of, recommend charities for donations and help sell her unwanted items. They can even create a customized floor plan of her new home so your mom can visualize where her belongings will fit.
Senior move managers can also get estimates from moving companies, oversee the movers, arrange the move date, supervise the packing and unpacking and help set up her new home, have the house cleaned and just about anything you need related to her move.
If you want to do some of the work yourself, you can pick and choose only the services you want. For example, you might only want a move manager’s help with downsizing and selling excess furniture and unwanted belongings but plan on doing the actual packing and moving yourself.
The cost of working with a senior move manager will vary depending on where you live, the services you want and size of the move, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $60 and $125 per hour or more, not including the cost of movers.
How to find one
To locate a senior move manager in your area, visit the National Association of Senior Move Managers website at NASMM.org or call 877-606-2766. The NASMM is a trade association with an accreditation program that requires its members to abide by a strict code of ethics that ensures integrity. They currently have around 1,000 members across the U.S.
You can also search at Caring Transitions (CaringTransitions.com), which is the largest senior relocation and transition services franchised company in the U.S. It currently has nearly 200 franchises throughout the country.
But, before you hire one, be sure you ask for references from previous clients and check them, and check with the Better Business Bureau, too. Also, find out how many moves they have actually managed and get a written list of services and fees. And make sure they’re insured and bonded.
If you can’t find a senior move manager in your area, another option is to hire a certified professional organizer who specializes in downsizing and relocating. To find one, check the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, which has a searchable database on its website at NAPO.net.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.