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How to Search for the Right Senior Living Community for You

Considering moving to a senior living community?  You probably have a lot of questions. How do I find the best situation for me?  Where do I look?  Where do I start?  It’s a big decision and there are a lot of factors to consider.

One thing is for sure, it’s never too early to start planning. Take a look at these tips to help you get started.

Define Your Priorities

Start by defining what you absolutely must have in order to feel comfortable and happy in your new home. This list could include proximity to family members, organized social events, accessible shopping areas, or on-site amenities such as fitness equipment. Keep these ideas front and center as you make your plans. Then, make a second list of nice-to-haves. A scenic view, outdoor seating, or an easily accessible ATM machine may be important but not as crucial.

 

Know Your Options

Most importantly, you want to think about what level of independence and care you want and need, now and in the future. When it comes to senior living communities, there’s no end to what they offer or how they are organized. Here are the most common types of senior living options available:

  • Age-restricted housing Age-restricted housing simply means that in order to be able to rent or buy in the housing complex, you have to be at least a certain age, usually fifty or fifty-five years old. In this type of setting, residents may have entirely separate units, or they may live in a more apartment-like setting. Often, aged-restricted housing offers common gathering areas and social activities. Pricier options can include anything from tennis courts to swimming pools and more.
  • Assisted-living facilities Assisted living facilities offer an array of supports for seniors with a wide variety of needs. Assisted living have staff available around the clock. When needed, they assist with daily living tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and providing meals. In most assisted living facilities, residents have their own room or apartment.

Quality assisted living facilities provide numerous opportunities for residents to socialize and engage in enriching activities that benefit their physical, emotional and cognitive health. Residents have individual care plans for each resident. They place a premium on the rights of their residents to self-determination. They encourage residents to have a say in their care plan while also involving family members in the process. Residents are free to accept some services offered, but opt out of others.

  • Nursing homes Often confused with skilled nursing facilities (which provide short-term acute care following a hospital stay), nursing homes offer long-term care daily living and medical care for elders with significant physical or cognitive impairments. Some specialize in certain health conditions, such as dementia, while others do not. Nursing homes are staffed by nurses, aides, and attending physicians, with 24-hour nursing care. Most offer on-site physical and occupational therapy.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) CCRCs encompass a range of independent living and care options, all in one general location. They have independent living options, assisted living and nursing home facilities that provide a continuum of care if and when a resident needs them.

People often choose a CCRC because they know their needs will be addressed with a minimum of change thrust upon them and their families. Living in a CCRC gives some people peace of mind to know where they will be if they ever need increasing care.

Do Your Research

Once you have an idea of what type of community you are looking for and where, it’s time to do some research.  This is true, especially if you are looking at options that include daily living support services. You want to be sure you are comfortable with those who will be offering you care.

There are a multitude of resources you can use to find reviews, rankings, and accreditations for senior living facilities. There are so many that it can be overwhelming. To keep it simple, start with the following:

  • Word-of-mouth

No one has the skinny on what it’s really like to live in a senior facility than the residents who live there. If you know someone who already lives in the type of facility you need, and it’s in the location you want, ask them what their experience has been. Ask: Is the facility clean? Do you enjoy living there?  Are the people who provide services kind and upbeat?  What are the downsides of the facility? Ask your doctor if they have any recommendations.

  • Research the accreditation process in your state

We agree, this sounds like a royal pain in the backside. Not exactly how you want to spend an afternoon, but it’s worth taking a look at which agency in your state (this is not done federally) is responsible for monitoring the quality of senior housing.

This resource from After55.com gives a state-by-state breakdown of the agencies you can contact in your state. Once you have an idea of who’s in charge and what accreditation means in your state, you can look for facilities that meet the highest level of accreditation. Some states don’t require accreditation at all, but quality facilities often go through a voluntary process, indicating their commitment to higher standards.

  • Your local senior center or veterans’ affairs officer

These are probably two of the most underappreciated civil servants you have access to in your community. Senior centers (sometimes referred to as the Council on Aging) have helped countless people navigate the process (and paperwork) of senior housing. The VA is available to assist vets in everything from applying for disability benefits, to applying for financial assistance for senior housing and pointing you in the direction of a good elder care lawyer.

If your local council on aging or veterans’ affairs officer doesn’t have an answer you need, chances are they’ll research it for you, or at least refer you to someone who can help.

  • View websites of facilities

Of course, everyone is going to try to put their best foot forward on their web page. Take a look, though, at some places you are considering. You may be able to take a virtual tour, or at least see photos, to get a lay of the land.

More importantly, take a look at the “About Us” section or their mission statement. These can tell you a lot about their philosophy and whether you would be happy in their facility.

Schedule Some Visits

After you’ve done some research and you have an idea of what you’re looking for, schedule a visit with at least a couple of facilities. Grab yourself a three-ring binder and keep notes on your visits. The facilities will give you a lot of standard paperwork and some of their own, and a binder helps you keep track of it all.

Be ready with your criteria and questions. Some of the things you’ll be looking for are:

Is the facility clean?  Is it bright and cheerful or dark and drab?

How do you like the people you meet?  Are the staff members warm and welcoming?  Do they seem like they genuinely enjoy working with the residents?

Does the staff demonstrate respect for the residents?  Do they encourage resident’s independence?

Does the staff look holistically at their residents’ well-being?  Do they concern themselves with mental and emotional well-being as well as physical health?

If you meet other residents, what do they have to say about the facility?

Do you see people gathering in common spaces?  

Are safety protocols easy to observe—fire extinguishers, proper exit signage, well-lit hallways.

Are individual units spacious enough for your comfort?

What range of services are available?

Don’t Go It Alone

When you are ready to look at alternatives to your current living situation, don’t go it alone. Call on friends for advice. Enlist family members to take on specific tasks—online research, making calls, etc. Take advantage of the services you are entitled to as a senior. Finding the right senior living situation is worth the effort.

 

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Welcome a co-authored post – ‘Preparing your kids for the move-back to College’

With many of our clients in the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ caring for their aging parents while supporting their own children, we thought this co-authored piece would be helpful…enjoy!

It’s that time of year again! With the winding down of summer, many parents and students are preparing to move back to college. Whether that means traveling an hour or two away, or halfway across the country, this involves some advanced planning. The first piece of legwork to be done is to confirm what will already be provided at the chosen housing. It is important not to take too much in what can be tight quarters.

Next, is the strategic packing of the car/truck. The first items to be loaded should be essentials; those absolute ‘musts’ that cannot be purchased or shipped at a later time. One suggestion is to purchase boxes with handles, which can easily be carried upstairs. If there is a plan to store items in totes under a bed, or in the closet, pack the totes with extra, storage items. This will avoid unnecessary unpacking. If space is tight, think about the next holiday or trip home, and plan to pick up heavy sweaters and coats during this break. When packing clothes, avoid bulky suitcases, and instead use clean garbage bags as garment bags. They can be used again, and will easily lie on top of the other packed items in the car. Lastly, plan to pack a small tool kit, and cleaning supplies LAST. This will come out of the car first, and be easily accessible for cleaning and repairs prior to moving items in.

Day of logistics – check the school’s website and move-in information about where to pick up keys, and park the car. Once unpacking, avoid making the bed first. The bed can be a great place to unpack items, but could get dirty, so plan to make this last, after everything is unpacked.

If you are moving out of state, and this requires taking a plane, plan to ship items ahead of time. Also, plan to utilize national stores such as Bed Bath Beyond, Target, etc. where you can buy in one state, and pick up in another, to avoid long lines.

Another option is to use a long-distance mover. Several agencies have created alternatives to the traditional long-distance moves, and provide options such as full service containers, and more!

The Student Storage Program    

Since 2014, Armbruster Moving & Storage has provided moving services to Case Western Reserve students as part of the ‘Student Storage Program.’ CWRU has roughly 80% of their undergraduate students living in college-owned housing. These numbers coupled with the location creates congested streets during move-out and move-in periods for students. Instead of parents having to rent a van or truck, we provide curbside pick-up of student’s belongings. The items are inventoried and stored in our warehouse during the summer, and delivered back out when students arrive in the fall.

Whether you DIY or hire a professional mover, we wish you the best of luck and safe travels this coming fall!

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Why You Should Hire a Senior Move Manager

There is a new and growing service industry that you probably have never heard of before. Senior move management companies are part of a new industry that has emerged to meet the needs of an aging population.

Senior move managers (SMMs) offer services to help with multiple aspects of a senior move, far beyond what moving companies typically offer. They help with downsizing tasks such as sorting, decluttering, and packing boxes. They help find the right places to rehome your belongings, take measurements to ensure furniture will fit in your new space, and coordinate timing and schedules. Senior move managers combine the nitty-gritty skills of project management with the emotional support needed during a senior move.

If you are facing the prospect of a senior move, for yourself or for a senior relative, you may want to look into hiring a certified senior move manager. Consider some of the benefits listed here before navigating this unfamiliar terrain on your own.

Protecting Family Relationships

Let’s face it. We don’t all have ideal relationships with our parents or our children. Even in the most loving relationships, there are issues and emotional baggage that stress can amplify. Downsizing a home that has decades’ worth of accumulated possessions is sure to put everyone involved under a fair amount of stress. Senior move managers can ease stress and support family relationships.

It’s an uncomfortable reality that the roles of parent and child slowly change as the parent ages. When adult children help their parents with a move, they often find themselves playing the role of the bad guy. The parent wants to hold onto things that hold memories, and the children, knowing there will be limited space in the new place, find themselves constantly saying no—similar to role they play with their children. Having these conversations over and over can be a constant reminder to the parent that they are becoming more dependent on their children. It’s a recipe for quite a lot of family arguments.

When senior move managers are involved, some of that friction goes away. The onus of being the bad guy is lifted from the adult children, and they can get back to being supportive of their parents. Parents are often more likely to say yes to an SMM than to their children (and to be happy with the results).

The Emotional Aspects of Downsizing

The senior move management industry formed their trade organization, National Association of Senior Move Managers, because they recognized that senior moving was a different experience than other kinds of moves. These weren’t moves that were inspired by relocating for work or needing more space for a growing family. The experience of leaving behind a home that took decades to create is an extremely emotional one.

Many people facing a senior move have likely experienced a great deal of loss at this point in their lives. The people connected with many of their possessions may be gone. The children whose drawings are collected in boxes are now grown and possibly far away. Parting with family mementos is tremendously difficult for many seniors, and senior move managers offer emotional support during the process.

Senior move management companies that are NASMM-certified operate by a code of ethics that includes patience, acceptance, and respecting the decisions of the client. While working with a client, managers are allowed into a client’s private life via photos, documents, letters and more. Senior move managers view that access as a privilege and demonstrate compassion and understanding for their clients throughout their transition.

Lightening the Workload

Moving is intensely physical, something that can be difficult for seniors. Senior move managers help with all aspects of the process. They help with:

  • Sorting items into boxes for keeping, donating, or selling
  • Keeping track of donations and sales of items for tax purposes
  • Packing and coordinating with the moving company
  • Arranging estate sales or online auctions or liquidators
  • Removing trash
  • Taking measurements of furniture to ensure items will fit in the new space
  • Cataloging items and sharing digitally with family members who might want certain pieces
  • Unpacking boxes in the new space

Senior move managers can also help with finding the best places for unwanted items. Whether it’s local charities, auctions, or even arranging for household hazardous waste disposal, they have done it all.

Senior move managers remove unwanted items from your home as soon as possible. Very often they will remove a few boxes during each of their appointments so you can see progress being made.

Keeping Up an Efficient Pace

Sometimes a senior move either takes too long or goes too quickly. If family members need to travel to help with the move, it’s likely they’ll be rushing to get as much done as possible during their stay. This can be overwhelming for the person being moved and, again, can strain family relationships.

On the other hand, families sometimes spend a year or more preparing to sell a home. Adult children who live locally may finding that helping only on weekends just isn’t enough time. If the person moving has a problem with hoarding, all that weekend work could be undone by the next session.

Senior move managers find the sweet spot—not rushing the move and not having too much lag time between sessions. They know the right questions to ask to help people get through the process efficiently.

Getting You Settled in Your New Home

Senior move managers earn their acclaim as “heaven sent” by going above and beyond what you might expect. They want their clients to truly love their new homes, and they do whatever is necessary to make that happen.

In one example, senior mover manager, Laura Armbruster, once worked with a couple moving from a large home in Michigan. They were relocating to a 2-bedroom apartment in a senior living facility near their children in Cleveland. The move was difficult emotionally, as they loved the home they were leaving behind. They wife had a collection of over 35 wall-mounted clocks. It was very important to her that her clocks be displayed in her new home the same way they had been in her old home.

Armbruster coordinated with their SMM in Michigan on the move. The SMM in Michigan took photos of the clock display, carefully removed the chimes and batteries from each clock, labelled and packed them. Armbruster’s team in Cleveland met the moving truck at the couple’s new home to help them unpack. They immediately hung the clocks on the main wall of their living room, using the photos as a guide. The clocks worked as the focal point in the new space, and the couple felt instantly at home.

These are just some of the benefits to hiring a senior move manager. If you’re ready to find your own SMM, ask for references from friends, the local senior center, or check out the NASMM website. You can even ask your primary care physician. Senior move managers will make your move easier, more efficient, and less stressful for everyone involved.

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The Best Way to Rehome Your Stuff When You Rightsize

We’ve all been there. In the middle of boxing and bagging your possessions for a big move, you look around and think: What am I going to do with all this STUFF? 

Decades of memories can add up to a lot of time sorting and agonizing about what to do with beloved possessions. It’s hard to let go of the things that have mattered to us over the years. The good news is that there are a lot of options when it comes to finding new homes for your things. 

Give to People You Know

Most organizing gurus will tell you that when you clear out clutter it’s helpful to have four separate bins on hand. One bin for items to keep, another for donations, another for selling, and another for trash. Before you even start that process, though, you may want to ask your circle of friends and family to see who might enjoy having some of your things. 

Hand off your lawn mower and garden tools to the young family next door. Know a young person moving into their first apartment? You may be able to find a home for a whole host of furniture and kitchen items. A special collection, such as sports memorabilia or art materials, can be passed along to a young person who shares your interest. 

Seeing your belongings given new life with people you care for can make letting go of them much easier.   Once you have some items cleared out, you’ll have more space to pull out those four bins and begin the next phase of clearing out. 

Donate or Sell?

A stumbling block for many people is deciding whether to sell or donate items. There are plenty of options for both, but consider carefully how much time you want to spend on rehoming your items. In most cases, it is much easier and faster to donate items than it is to sell them. 

When you sell your items, you usually get a fraction of what the item is worth. When you donate, you can set the value of the item and claim the donation on your taxes. You may even be able to schedule a donation pick up at your home, saving you the time and trouble of making an extra trip.

Where to Donate

There are many reputable organizations in the Cleveland area that accept donations of household items, furniture, clothing, children’s toys, and books and DVDs. Here are a few to consider.

The Gathering Place, a local organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families whose lives have been touched by cancer. They offer free programs and services to address a range of needs for patients and caregivers.

The Gathering Place accepts gently used household items, furniture, art, dishware, and more for their warehousewhich is open roughly once a month. Proceeds from warehouse sales benefit their free programs. Give them a call at 216-595-9546 to arrange for a preview of your items and to schedule a donation pick up. 

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity is another worthwhile organization to keep on your donation list. Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to realize “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” They raise money and organize volunteers to help families build and renovate affordable homes. Donations to Cleveland Habitat go to their ReStore Facility, where items are sold at a discount to the Greater Cleveland community.

When you’ve made some progress and are really ready to make some traction on your moving preparations, get in touch with Cleveland Habitat. They have an extensive list of items they take (as well as ones they don’t) that go beyond regular household items. The ReStore takes all kinds of building materials—flooring, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, lumber—and all kinds of gently used furniture. If you want to know what they accept, check out their list here.

A Word About Textiles

Before you toss your old clothes or shoes in the trash, thinking they are too worn out to have value to anyone, stop. In the past, donation centers such as Savers and Goodwill only wanted items in good shape. They didn’t want to bother with stained or ripped clothing that wouldn’t sell because they would have to pay to dispose of the unwanted items. Now non-profit organizations partner with textile recovery companies who encourage donations of any type of textile, even if it’s ripped or stained. They take towels, stuffed animals, pillows, and even underwear, as long as items are clean, dry, and not soaked in oil.

Textile recovery businesses work with charitable organizations to sort donation by quality. Items in good shape are marked for sale, and items that aren’t get shredded and repurposed for industrial uses like furniture stuffing and building insulation. Organizations then earn money for every pound of textiles that are collected. Check out Cuyahoga Recycles for more information.

Selling Your Stuff on Your Own

If you are willing to commit some time to selling your unwanted items, there are certainly a lot of options. You could hold a couple of yard sales or moving sales. It may take most of your weekend, but people sometimes make upwards of $1000 from a well-staged yard sale.  

There are several apps and web options that can help you sell your stuff. If the transaction requires a face-to-face meeting, always use caution when meeting with strangers. Many police stations have a dedicated spot for such transactions. 

Facebook has a marketplace for selling items and most cities and towns have page dedicated to selling items amongst community members. These local pages can actually be a lot of fun—you’ll meet a friend of friend more often than not—and a great way to connect with others in your community. Just don’t get tempted to buy the stuff other people are selling! 

One of the most popular “letting go” apps is LetGo. LetGo requires meeting face-to-face, so again use caution when making your transaction. You can sell anything from clothes to cars, so it’s worth a look. Mercari is another app where you can sell just about anything. Mercari has the added benefit of having a UPS partnership, taking some of the hassle out of shipping items once you sell them and avoiding face-to-face meetups. 

If you have high-end items, such as fine art (with documentation) or antiques, many appraisers will come to you to give you a price. Cowan’s auctions in Cleveland is a reputable establishment that will come to your home and give a quick opinion on your items.

Do-It-Yourself or Hire a Pro?

Yes, you can do all of this yourself to find the best homes for all of your things. Moving, though, is considered a highly stressful life event by medical professionals—on par with losing a loved one, or having a baby. So, you just may want someone in your corner who can help navigate all the steps of gifting, donating, and selling your items. If so, a professional senior move manager can handle many of these tasks for you, as well as measuring and planning for your new living space.  

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5 Questions to Ask Before Right-Sizing Your Home in Retirement

Empty-nesters and retirees know the feeling well. Your life, which was filled with responsibilities, schedules, and people that relied upon you, has suddenly changed. Maybe you’ve retired and now have forty hours per week all to yourself. Maybe you last child living at home has finally sprouted their wings and made their own nest. You look around and think, “Now what?”  

If you are like a lot of people at this stage of life, you wonder whether it’s time to start down-sizing your living arrangements. There’s a lot to consider—how much you like your current home, financial circumstances, whether another location would be better suited to your life. 

It may be time to ask yourself whether your home meets your needs and desires. It’s an emotional process that many people find very difficult. Here are some questions to consider that may make your decision-making process a bit easier.

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Oprah Winfrey has been quoted as saying, “How you spend your time defines who you are.”  How you spend your time can also help determine what you need from your living space. Use your monthly calendar to do a little detective work. See how often you are home and how often you entertain. When you are home, what do you do in your free time?

 If you enjoy hosting gatherings once or twice a month, then having extra seating is important. If you build custom furniture in your spare time, you probably need some place to serve as a workshop—one that’s preferably not in your living room. If you don’t have people over often, or tend to enjoy a lot of quiet time to yourself, an extra dining space may no longer be necessary. 

Instead of a monthly calendar, you can keep an informal log and track your activities for a couple of weeks. Looking at how you spend your time can give you insight on what’s really important to you.

Are You Using All of Your Space?

As we go through different phases of life, the way we use our living space changes. Because these changes don’t tend to happen all at once, you may not notice that it’s happened at all. Think about whether you use all of the bedrooms you have—maybe for a hobby room or out-of-town guests—or whether you only go in them to clean. Have you tapered off from hosting large holidays or do you still enjoy a house full of people?  Your answers may help determine whether you value having a separate dining room, an extra bedroom, or a large kitchen or not. 

It can be hard, though, to be objective about how much of your living space you are actually using. Try leaving a small notepad in rooms that are less frequently used. When you use the room, jot down what you used it for and the date. Keep track for a few months and see what emerges. You may be surprised at what you find, and this can give you important information in your decision-making process.

Keep track of the rooms you use, and how frequently.

Do You Live Alone?

It’s a fact that many Americans live alone during their retirement years. Of course, living alone doesn’t automatically mean feeling lonely. Some people thrive by living alone and relish time spent in their own company. Living alone, though, can be a risk factor for loneliness

Think about what living alone looks like for you. Do you have children, grandchildren, and friends visiting often?  Do you get out to attend social events or clubs?  If you have a robust social life, a little isolation can be a welcome respite from social interaction. If you spend multiple days a week without seeing anyone socially, you may want to explore living arrangements that have built-in opportunities for social interaction. 

Consider your options.  Senior living communities often have scheduled events and spur-of-the-moment gatherings in their shared spaces. If your child or another relative wants you to move into their in-law apartment, you’ll have companionship and still have time to yourself. 

Living along can be a risk factor for loneliness

Do You Drive?

Whether you currently drive or whether your driving status is likely to change in the future plays a significant role in determining if your living arrangement suits your needs. Living in a bedroom community away from public transportation or a walkable city makes driving almost a necessity. If you don’t drive, many goods and services can be arranged online, but there is a downside to that convenience—feeling isolated. 

Loneliness is a concern for retirees. For many elders, loss of loved ones, family and friends, increases social isolation. Planning time for seeing friends and family takes some effort and maybe even travel. Living within walking distance to stores and places to eat can increase your social connections, which is important for your mental and physical health. Alternatively, housing that includes community spaces, such as senior living communities and assisted living facilities, provide frequent opportunity to meet with neighbors on a regular basis.

Can You Keep Up with Home Maintenance?

No matter where you live, your home needs to be maintained—cleaning, repairs, yardwork. The question is who is going to be responsible for that work and expense. Are you able to stay up with the cleaning—and are you cleaning rooms you never use? Can you afford to have the roof replaced? Are you ready to let someone else handle the mowing, raking, and shoveling? 

Physical limitations are an important consideration when it comes to home maintenance. As we age, many of these tasks become difficult to do on our own. There are financial considerations and quality of life issues as well. Maintaining a larger home is more expensive and more time-consuming than maintaining a smaller one. Senior living communities, condos, or assisted living facilities take care of most if not all home maintenance tasks, which make them attractive options for seniors.

The Next Steps

Only you can define what is most important to you in your senior years, but that doesn’t mean you have to decide on your housing options all on your own. Adult children and grandchildren can help by researching local options and acting as a sounding board. Outside of family, there are lots of resources for helping seniors navigate the process. Local senior centers, veterans’ services, and senior move managers can all offer support as you make your decision. 

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Tips for Moving in the Summer!

How about this summer weather!

Now that it has officially turned into summer, we thought it would be a good idea to share some summer moving tips. 

Plan your move date early   

In addition to being a popular time to vacation, the summer is a popular time to move. Data shows that 70% of household moving occurs in the summer months. Not only is the weather better, but children are off school, and many want to get settled before the start of the new school year. Also, home-selling season is in full swing, for similar reasons. The beginning and end of the month tend to be busiest, in addition to the end of the week (Thursday and Friday). Many leases are up at the beginning/end of the month, and many people like to have the weekend to get settled. Holidays and holiday weekends should also be avoided. If you plan early, you can choose a less popular day, and will not have to pay premium for holiday or weekend rates.

Prepare for the weather

Although there will be no snow, and hopefully no rain, you still need to prepare for the conditions. Try to ensure a morning start, so the bulk of the hard work is not done in the heat of the sun. Make sure to hydrate and have water on hand. Plan to turn the utilities on at the new place in advance, so that air conditioning can be started prior to arriving.  It is also a good idea to have portable fans, since the doors will need to be open for part of the time, while the movers load and unload.

Special Care

Certain items will not do well in the heat and should not be moved in the truck, if possible. Examples of these include candles, musical instruments, CDs, vinyl records, photographs, and more. Plan to transport these separately in the car. If this is not possible, mark these boxes ‘load last’ and thus they will be unloaded first, and spend the least amount of time in the truck. Appliances should also be unplugged and prepped 24 hours prior to loading. Freezers should be completely emptied and de-frosted prior to the move date. 

With early planning and some considerations for the heat, moving in the summer can be an enjoyable experience!

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Welcome to our guest blog ~ “The Facts about Reiki” by Donna Cioffoletti

Thank you, Laura Armbruster, for inviting me on this journey with you.  Helping families move/downsize is a major decision in their lives and can be especially difficult.  Whether it’s moving parents to a facility or job relocating, and downsizing it is overwhelming.  Laura, is a kind and compassionate lady that I have known 3 years now.  I have never seen her lose her cool, and always quickly comes up with solutions.  

A few weeks ago, Laura invited me to write about the positive benefits of Reiki and how it can assist you with stress.  So here goes, I hope that I help you learn something new today!

“What is this thing called Reiki?” 

I’ve heard this question many times, here is the answer.  Reiki is an Asian philosophy of stress reduction and relaxation technique for adults, children and animals.  

Reiki is gentle touch over specific meridians of the body starting at the head, working down the body to the throat, shoulders, hands, stomach, hips, knees and feet and the back.  When my hands are placed over the various meridians, (about 2 inches from the body) my focus and concentration are in the moment.  Each meridian receives approximately 3-5 minutes of focus.  Reiki will be received in that area and flow throughout the body.    Some clients feel heat, some feel energy, some fall asleep, some claim they don’t feel anything.  

Clients stay dressed, the only thing we ask for you to take off is your shoes.   They are many ways to receive Reiki, all hand positioning can be modified to suit all individual needs.   The most common and basic is lying on a massage table for either 30, 45 or 60 minutes.   (Time is up to the client).  In addition, we use a zero-gravity chair for those who are unable to lie flat on a table.  I have also given Reiki to those in wheelchairs and bedridden.   

Donna providing Reiki for a client

A quiet, peaceful, calm, spa environment, wearing a headset, while soft music plays, promotes a very quiet atmosphere and reduces outside noises. We also use essential oils.  Keeping in mind the client may have allergies, those questions are asked when scheduling appointments. 

Let’s face it, unfortunately we all are “busy”, “stressed out”, etc.  Taking time out for ourselves is a necessity for self-care and self-love.  After all, if we are stressed out, exhausted, cranky, and burned out, how are we going to take care of our loved ones?  Reiki is a fabulous way for proactively maintaining our health, wellness and energy on a spirit, mind and body connection.  It is a method of “putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first, then help others.”

Over the years I have had the honor and privilege of working with many cancer patients, caregivers, bipolar patients, migraines/headaches sufferers, Autistic children, cerebral palsy, PTSD and much more.  Dogs, cats and horses have also been my clients.   The animals take to it so much faster than humans.  My own rescued beagle will be 16 years old in August.   They told me in 2011, he would not be around much longer, that his arthritis would only get worse.  Here we are in 2019 and he’s still with me.  Hmmm.

Hopefully, I have sparked in you to pay attention to your spirit, mind and body connection.   Remember where the mind goes, the body will follow.   So, if you are constantly thinking negative or illness thoughts your body will follow. 

Think positive and healthy thoughts and your body will follow.   Namaste!!

Donna Cioffoletti, has been practicing Reiki for 20 years, 19 years as a Reiki Master.  Donna took her Reiki I Class March 1999, Reiki II class October 1999 and the Reiki III/Master Class Jun 2000.  Donna has taught Reiki to nurses, social workers, cosmetologists, and various business people.  

Donna likes to joke, “this New York Italian is helping people calm down”!! 

You may follow Donna on Facebook – Donna’s Reiki Wellness, or Instagram Donnas_Reiki_Wellness.  Please feel free to email Donna with any questions or concerns at:  sasyitalianchic@yahoo.com

Thank you Donna for the wonderful article!

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The Facts About Storage – Part Two

How to pick the correct-sized storage unit and other tips!

In our first article, we addressed the difference between storing items at a moving company warehouse, versus a mini-storage unit. Another common question we get is, “What size storage unit do I need?” If you are choosing to store your items with a moving company, the answer is easy – you will not need to know. The salesperson/coordinator at the moving company should be able to inventory what you are moving to storage and give you an estimate of cost based on this. 

If you are storing at a storage unit, the answer is a bit more complicated. Typically, there are different-sized units available such as –

Examples of sizes of mini-storage units

The next question to ask, is how tall the units are. Items can usually not be stacked much taller than 5 or 6 ft. We will take the most popular size, 10ftx10ft, and assume items can be stacked 5ft tall. 10 multiplied by 10 multiplied by 5 is 500 cubic feet (10x10x5=500). Each cubic foot holds 7lbs, thus a 10×10 unit holds about 3500lbs (500ft3multiplied by 7). An average room holds about 1500lbs, thus 3500lbs will be the equivalent to a 2bedroom apartment. 

Things to consider that may affect the size space you need, would be how ‘stackable’ are the items. Is this a lot of furniture that is square, ,like end tables and night stands, or bulky, like a sofa or sectional? Are you moving a lot of boxes and totes, that are easy to stack, or rather items that cannot be stacked, such as garden tools and floor lamps?

If you are planning to use a mini-storage, and plan to do the move without the assistance of a moving company here are some tips:

  • Don’t lay a TV on its side, it will affect the electrical components
  • Don’t pack with newspaper, the print will rub off and dirty items and your hands while unpacking.
  • Empty all appliances of water, and let them dry, and tape down loose parts.
  • Stack heavy boxes/items on bottom and light on top.
  • Think about moisture, and use pallets on the ground, and moving pads to protect.
  • Cardboard boxes placed on furniture can scratch the surface (small particles on bottom can rub). Use pads in between
  • Place items in front that you will need access to – such as décor for holidays, vacations, etc.
  • If you have shelves, make them functional and use them to stack boxes and smaller items.

If you plan to use a moving company to assist with the move out of the mini-storage, consider the access to the unit. Especially if you are moving long-distance, it would be advantageous to be able to fit a semi-truck in, to load up. If not, there is the potential a smaller truck would be needed to move the larger truck, and the cost will be higher due to extra handling. 

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The Facts about Storage – Part One

Everything you need to know about storage (and probably more than you wanted to)!

A consideration prior to beginning this discussion – make sure you are not using storage as a way to postpone making decisions about your items. To save time and money (lots of money in the long-term), make sure to go through all of your items, and that you are keeping only those items that you need, love, and will use in the future. We caution clients to store with a purpose in mind, and an end date. An example; you have a family member that is buying a house, but it will not be ready for a couple of months, and they would like some of your furniture and household goods. This is storage with a purpose, and end-date in mind.

There are two different ways to store your excess items. One, is at the warehouse of a moving company. This type of storage is an excellent choice if you are going to be using a moving company to move you into storage, and then eventually to your new place. One reason is the continuity of valuation (mover’s term for insurance). If you are using the same company to move your items into storage, there will be coverage on these items through the duration of the move, storage, and move back out. Another positive is that the crew will load the storage crates using the same moving pads and protection they used in picking the items up. The crates will be loaded by a professional mover, so that all items will be properly protected. One negative to storing at a warehouse, is there will likely be a charge for accessing the items. If you want access, this will need to be scheduled ahead of time, so the warehouse can make your crates accessible. And there will likely be an hourly charge for a crew member to help you navigate the crate and your belongings.

Storage crates at a moving company warehouse

This brings us to the other option for storing, a mini-storage unit. The major positive being unlimited and free access to your items. The negatives include a disruption in the protection of your items, removal of pads and protection by the moving company, and uncertainty of safety. Certain things can vary based on the mini-storage facility selected, however, if you use a moving company to move your items into the unit, their insurance of your items will end upon them leaving the unit. Separate insurance would then need to be purchased from the mini-storage. Also, the moving company will remove their moving pads upon delivery, thus moving pads will need to be purchased prior to the move, or from the moving company. Without pads, the items will not be able to be stacked effectively, and a larger unit will be needed.

Example of a mini-storage unit

Stay tuned for our next article, addressing the amount of storage space that will be needed and tips for prepping the items you are storing.

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Merger of Smooth Transitions & Armbruster Moving & Storage, Inc.

Press Release, Cleveland, Ohio

We are excited to announce that as of January 1st, 2019, Smooth Transitions Cleveland has been acquired by Armbruster Moving & Storage, Inc. Armbruster Moving & Storage has acquired Smooth Transitions assets, staff, and customer contracts. However, merged business will still operate under the Smooth Transitions brand. This is a wonderful opportunity to provide an even broader amount of services to those individuals that are making a life-changing move. Clients that are in need of help, are typically moving from a home they have lived in for 40-60 years. Combining the services of Smooth Transitions, with the ability and scope of Armbruster, will provide clients with the entire continuum of care during their relocation.

About Smooth Transitions Cleveland

Smooth Transitions Cleveland was started in 2004 by Michele Innenberg, and was taken over in September 2013 by Laura Armbruster.  Smooth Transitions provides individuals and their families the emotional and physical assistance needed in making a change in living arrangements. Typically, this involves a downsize of space; and will include services such as floor planning, sorting, organizing, packing, move coordination, and unpacking and settle-in. Smooth Transitions also provides services for the dispersal of household belongings after the move/downsize, to help prep their home for sale. 

About Armbruster Moving & Storage

Armbruster Moving & Storage is a full-service moving & storage company based out of Cleveland, Ohio. As a Mayflower agent, corporate relocation, and cross-country moves are top of mind. However, Armbruster provides local moving solutions to most of northeast Ohio and beyond.  Fully-equipped with local trucks, and expertly-trained staff, they are able to navigate throughout the numerous retirement communities in the area. Founded in 2001, brothers Chuck & Gary turned in their trucks to start Armbruster Moving & Storage.  The Armbruster Brothers set out to build a reputation of quality and customer service. Today, this reputation has been the foundation for what has become Armbruster Moving & Storage, an award-winning moving company driven by quality service and a family culture. 

Visit www.armbrustermoving.com to find out more information. 

Contact Info:

Laura Armbruster Farmer

Address: 2800 Center Road Brunswick, Ohio 44212

Phone: 216-381-7418