One of the many Sandwich Generation issues, when caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our family, can include helping our parents to relocate. They may downsize to a smaller home, they may move in with us, they may move into one of the many senior retirement home options available, or they may have to move into a nursing care facility. One thing all of those options have in common is having to deal with the actual moving. SandwichINK is pleased to present this post, on just that topic, from guest blogger, Katie Hustead, Owner and Senior Move Manager and Specialist for Paper Moon Moves, (Senior Moving Services Company) located in New York:
Lessons Learned From My Grandmother: Planning for Future Moves
By Katie Hustead
My grandmother and grandfather lived in a small house tucked deep in the woods, accessible only by car. I have fond memories of visits to that house and the adventures we had playing in the woods.
My grandmother never learned to drive, which was fine for many years because my grandfather loved to chauffeur her around. But when he was diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer it became obvious that this living arrangement would no longer work. My grandmother couldn’t even walk to a grocery store from her home, and cab rides into town were expensive.
Grandma had to move. Fast.
We scrambled to find her an apartment near some family members. Then we had to move her belongings. It went something like this:
- We quickly packed up EVERYTHING in the house. There wasn’t time to sort and decide what she would want or need in her new apartment, so we packed it all.
- We tried to move EVERYTHING to her new place but realized that EVERYTHING simply wouldn’t fit. So we…
- …rushed to decide which boxes would stay at her apartment and which ones would wind up in…
- … storage at my sister’s house. Because my sister had the space, she was the recipient of more than half of Grandma’s belongings.
Later, we tried to get Grandma to sort through the boxes to see if there was anything she needed or wanted to give to relatives or to the church where Grandfather had preached. But by that point she was too focused on adjusting to her new life to deal with the tangible reminders of her old life. Usually when she wanted something from storage, we found it easier to buy replacements instead. Within a few years she succumbed to dementia symptoms and became incapable of sorting her belongings.
Five years after her death, her things are collecting dust in my sister’s basement. Grandma was a packrat so the boxes include everything from beautiful family wedding photos to used AAA batteries.
This scenario is all too common: a relative or friend with a little extra space unexpectedly becomes the free, long-term, custodian for the possessions of the senior who suddenly has to downsize and move. But this solution is far from free. The senior has the irritation of not having access to things they may need and the lingering worry that those stored things must be dealt with sooner or later. Meanwhile, the person storing the stuff gives up valuable space.
It didn’t have to be like this. Imagine that my grandparents had had the tough conversation about how long they could remain in their rural home before the move became imminent. Imagine that they had researched their options and found a nice senior residence or apartment to move into when the time came. And, finally, imagine that they had sorted their belongings and decided which items they would take to their new home, which heirlooms would go to family and friends, and which things could be sold for much-needed cash.
In my work as a New York City senior move manager, I apply all the painful lessons I learned from my grandmother. I want all seniors and their families to avoid my family’s mistakes and have more pleasant and positive moving experiences.
Most senior move managers start with a floor plan of the new home. We work with the seniors and any family members involved to decide which of their things can fit comfortably in the new home and what to do with the remaining things – selling, donating, recycling or giving to things to family and friends. Then we sort, pack, oversee the move (and the movers) and set up the new home. Quickly. We do as much or as little as the seniors and their family want us to do.
For most of us, the best part of a job is the moment when the senior walks into their new home after the move: the bed is made, pictures are on the walls and dishes are clean and put away. The senior, having avoided the work and worry of doing all this alone, can plunk down in that favorite easy chair and start focusing on their new life. That’s why we love what we do.
Paper Moon Moves, a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, is a senior move management company serving seniors in the New York City area. To find a senior move manager in your location, go to NASMM.
SandwichINK again. Wasn’t that a great article for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for elderly parents? I really appreciated it. I “met” Katie recently when she did a guest blog for Eldercare Guru. After I commented there that a senior move management business to help seniors move was new to me and looked like an excellent resource, she contacted me about doing a guest post.
I have to tell you, I have never used Paper Moon Moves, so I cannot personally recommend them. As I always suggest, you always need to do research on new-to-you companies by using such great resources as the Better Business Bureau and . That being said, I will tell you, I checked BBB and they did NOT have any info, which means no major complaints have been made, among other things. Also, I was very impressed at her professionalism and follow through in my dealings with her in regard to this guest post for SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation. If I lived in or around Brooklyn, New York, and needed senior move assistance, I would definitely check out Paper Moon Moves.
P.S. Thank you so much for your comments. I enjoy them very much and read each one. I also love the grand ideas so many of you share that help and encourage other readers. Thank you.