Time to Move? Make it Simple!

Head: Is it time to move?One of the most traumatic things anyone can do is move. This is true when you are twenty-something or fifty-something but even more so when you are eighty-something. Most of us put it off as long as we can. But there are times when moving is not simply the best solution but the only one.One senior I know said she wanted to move while “she was in charge.” She could decide where to go, what to take, what would happen with some of her ‘leftovers’ and a chance to become involved where she moved. Moving while you are “in charge” is a great option. It doesn’t get any better than that!  What is hard under normal circumstances can be even more frightening when you are faced with a lifetime’s accumulations, health issues and perhaps no spouse or other family support.Subhead:Where to moveDeciding where to move is important. It will give you an idea of how much space you will have and hopefully what you may take. If you are still making the decision if you even need to move, think about your situation as it relates to these issues:• Is my current home too large for me?• Do I need a one-level floor plan?• Is the house and yard maintenance more than I want to care for?• Do I want to deal with weather events—snow, ice, wind storms—for another season in my current home?As you look for places to move, consider your needs. Do you need a place that provides meals, assistance with cleaning,laundry, transportation and activities?Ideally you will look for a place that offes a range of services. Then as your needs change, you will be able to add services without additional moves. How do you choose from all the residential options? Think about the neighborhood/area of town where you would like to live. Do you need to move closer to your children or other support persons? Do you have health/medical needs that will figure into where you go?Is a condo or smaller house going to offer the socialization and services you will need if not now, down the road? Each retirement community, assisted living or senior apartment has a personality. Make a visit to the ones you might consider for a future home. Take a tour, have a meal in the dining room and spend a night or two if possible. This is a big decision and needs to be taken with care.Subhead:What to take and how to make it happenO.K., so you have decided where you are going to move, where do you begin to make it happen? Start small, but stay at it! Begin in one room. Think about what you will have room for in your new home and what possessions you dearly love. Are there furniture pieces or other items that family members might enjoy? Remember, if you give a piece of furniture to your children, you can visit it and you won’t have to dust it!Use removable dots or sticky notes to mark items that you are planning to move. Identify a color that will indicate it will move, perhaps “green” for go. Using a different color for specific family members is a good visual of what and where things are going. Stay in one room and decide what will happen to your treasures of a lifetime. There will be some items with question marks that you may decide on later.If you will be moving somewhere with meals provided or you are no longer doing much cooking, you won’t need to take much from your kitchen. If you won’t have a dining room, you won’t need the china, crystal and silver for twelve. Thanksgiving may be held at someone else’s house in years to come.Do you have items in the basement from your children or from past generations? Let everyone know you are moving. If they want their items that have been in your care, they will have to get them or they will go away.Before you say, “I will take something to my new home,” ask:  “Do I use it, do I love it, do I have room for it?” When in doubt, don’t move something to overcrowd your new place. If something has special memories, take a picture of it but let the item go. You have loved it; let someone else love it now.Even if you aren’t planning on moving for a few years, now is the time to start sorting through your lifetime treasures.  Distribute things to family, friends and loved ones while you can see them enjoy them too. Eliminate as much clutter in your life as you can. It will free your mind to know you are making these decisions before you have to—before there is a time element. Do a little at a time—a drawer, a closet, a shelf—and before you know it, you will be ahead of the game.If the whole process of moving seems overwhelming, there are services available to help you with as little or as much of the project as you need. There is a new industry called “Senior Move Management.” Senior Move Managers help with sorting, packing, moving arrangements, move coordination, unpacking and emptying your current house. The National Association of Senior Move Managers, (1-877-606-2766 or NASMM.com), can help you find assistance where you live and/or where you are moving. Many family members aren’t available to help due to work schedules and distance.  Senior move managers are trained professionals who are experienced in handling all aspects of a move. Don’t beafraid to ask for help.Barbara H. MorrisPresident, Smooth Transitionsa household downsizing and estate dispersal companyfounded in 1995author of Moving for Seniors, A step-by-step workbook