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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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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

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Tips for the First Day Jitters!

For many of our clients, there is a lot of anticipation for the first day/week in their new home. Much like the first day of school, there are a lot of unknowns. From the building itself, to the staff and residents, this can be a huge change from living alone at home, or in an apartment. We have discovered some ways to help ease this transition, and make it less anxiety provoking.

The first thing would be to schedule to spend time in the community prior to moving in. A lot of communities will host you and your family for lunch and dinner, as a way to showcase their menu, amenities, and community. During these visits, make sure to take a tour to get an overall feel of the layout and key places. When you have secured a room, make sure to travel around the community, going to and from your new apartment. Take note of how to get to the dining room, laundry facilities, parking, and front desk.

In addition to attending a meal, try to attend a happy hour, or other community events. It is a great way to interact with current residents, and feel more comfortable upon move in. Invite your friends and family to attend as well. It is nice to have a familiar face in the crowd.

Start compiling a list of important numbers and facts about the community. One important number is maintenance. They will most likely help with setting up of your TV, cable, and Internet on move-in day. In addition, they will be the go-to for anything in your apartment that requires attention. Another number is the front desk. This person will be able to guide you in the right direction and answer many of your questions relating to meals, schedules, events, etc. If you have medications, the nursing number will be helpful for any questions you may have.

Lastly, be kind to yourself! No matter the preparation, there will be a period of adjustment. Know that there will be things you need to learn, and get used to, and over time you will get increasingly comfortable. Make sure to bring pictures, artwork, and furniture from your home that makes you happy, and makes your new place feel like home.