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How to Manage the Stress of Moving

It’s no secret that moving is stressful.

For one thing, there is an avalanche of tasks that have to be performed in a fairly short time frame.

Then, there is the emotional aspect of moving. Every move involves sifting through belongings to some extent. Whether it’s photos, books, or dishes, the things we have in our home are a storehouse of memories which can bring up a range of feelings.

You don’t want the stress of moving, though, to get the best of you. There are a lot of ways you can ease the stress of moving and make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well.

Stay Focused on Your Health

It’s easy to let moving take over your life.  Sometimes you just want to power through so that things get done. Don’t push yourself too hard, though, or you may pay the price by getting sick.

First and foremost, you have to be vigilant in prioritizing your health.

  • Keep your medical appointments.
  • Make sure you are taking all of your prescribed medications and doctor-recommended vitamins.
  • Continue with your normal exercise regimen. (Exercise relieves stress and helps you get better sleep. A double-whammy you don’t want to miss!)
  • Eat nutritious food and eat enough of it. That will keep your immune system from taking a hit.
  • Take time for relaxation, and continue to do the things that you enjoy.
  • Above all, be sure to get enough rest.

Try Relaxation Techniques

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn some relaxation techniques. You can try deep breathing exercises or do some guided meditations.

When we get stressed, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. By slowing your breathing, and doing “belly breaths,” you can slow your stress response.

To do belly breaths, place your hand on your upper abdomen, under your rib cage.  Inhale through your nose and count to four as you allow your belly to expand as you inhale. Your belly will flatten as you exhale. If you do even three rounds of belly breaths, you’ll feel more relaxed.

Apps, such as headspace or calm.com, offer simple guided meditations that you can do in about 10 minutes. Both Headspace and Calm.com have paid versions, but you can do a lot of meditating on just their free versions. Search for ‘guided meditations’ on YouTube, and you’ll find a ton of videos there as well.

Break Large Tasks into Smaller Actions

Moving is a huge endeavor, and it can seem overwhelming if you think of it as one big job.

The way to make it manageable is to break it down into smaller chunks that are doable.

One way to do that is to write a list of all the different type of things that need to be done for your move. Start with larger categories (find a new home, sell my home), and work your way down to smaller tasks.

For example, the category of “sell my home” could be broken down like this:

Those categories are still huge.  Break them down further.  “Get rid of old junk” might look like this:

  • Gather boxes, markers, and tape.
  • Label some boxes: Donate, Keep, Trash, Recycle
  • Schedule two one-hour sessions to declutter kitchen.
  • Ask a friend to come and help.

The idea is to break the jobs down into manageable tasks that you can accomplish in a fairly short amount of time.  You’re still getting it all done, but you won’t exhaust yourself in the process.

A spiralbound notebook or legal pad might be helpful for this.  There are also task-management apps, such as rememberthemilk and Trello that can help keep you organized.

Ask Others for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.  Start with family and friends.  They can help you think through how to break down tasks, make necessary calls, and start sorting and packing some of your things.

It’s important to have others involved in the process.  Not only can it ease the load of work, but having social interaction is good for your mental health.

You can also work with a senior move manager. A senior move manager can help oversee the whole moving process or help with certain parts of it.  They are invaluable for making the moving process less stressful.

If you’re looking for ways to keep stress down during your move, take a look at our services page, or give us a call at 216-381-7418. We’re here to help!

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Intergenerational Living and Its Benefits

What do you think of when you hear the term senior housing? Most people think of it as housing that caters to the specific needs of seniors, typically by moving seniors towards age-specific communities, and away from younger generations.

This makes a certain amount of sense. Seniors often do have specific needs and preferences. Many seniors rise early, dine early, and go to bed early. They don’t want to be dealing with younger neighbors who are socializing late at night. They may not want to be around the hubbub and sometimes frenetic pace of people who are in the midst of their working lives. And, heck, it’s nice to talk with people whose good old days are the same as yours.

There are pluses and minuses to everything, though, and senior housing is no different. Healthcare professionals who work with seniors are finding that while senior living communities can bring a lot of positive benefits to seniors, there are drawbacks to living in a generationally-sorted environment. One of the downsides is that interaction with younger people is often very limited. This fact can have implications in terms of seniors’ health and well-being. Because of this, people are giving more consideration to intergenerational living options.

The term intergenerational living is a bit of a catch-all phrase. It means different things to different people and can indicate any number of housing situations. We’re sure be hearing a lot more on the subject as our population ages and housing shortages increase.

Living with Family in a Multi-generational Household

The number of people living in multi-generational family situations is the highest it’s been since the 1950’s. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five Americans lives in a multi-generational household, a growth of 8% from 1980.

There are a number of forces that have contributed to this change—the 2008-2009 recession, housing shortages, and changing cultural demographics are a few. Adults with young children often return to their parents’ homes to save on housing costs. In other situations, seniors find that managing and paying for their own housing becomes untenable and move in with their adult children.

In the best scenarios, where family relationships are emotionally healthy, intergenerational living offers benefits to everyone. For example, seniors can sometimes take on childcare duties for harried parents. Many grandparents feel that having an active role in caring for their grandchildren keeps them healthier and more active.

Children benefit, too. Grandparents have a lifetime of learning to pass on to children. Children often enjoy having someone else to play with them when their parents are busy. There’s even some indication that children who have regular contact with seniors have more advanced social and emotional skills than those who don’t.

Planned Intergenerational Communities

Well-planned intergenerational living environments communities aren’t all that common….yet. There are multiple health, cultural, and economic benefits to such communities, though, so we can expect to see more of them in the coming years. Planned intergenerational communities can take many forms.

Some intergenerational communities have senior housing and daycare facilities housed in the same complex. Programming is established to ensure intergenerational interaction. In other communities, planners build upon senior housing already in place, adding restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores in addition to housing that attracts a younger population.

Some communities offer free or low-cost housing to young people in exchange for offering various community activities. In Cleveland, Ohio, the Judson Manor retirement home provides seniors and college students a unique opportunity to interact with one another. For elders, having sustained social interaction, especially with younger people, is believed to have numerous emotional and physical benefits including reduced levels of depression and lower levels of systemic inflammation.

In response to housing shortages at area universities such as the Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University, Judson Manor offers free housing to select college students. In exchange for housing, students assume the role of artists-in-residence. They give concerts and teach classes to residents. Sometimes, they just hang out with residents, cook together, or offer to do small errands.

Aging in place by sharing housing with students/young adults

Many empty-nesters are getting creative when it comes to their housing choices. Instead of down-sizing and moving to a smaller home, they are opening up their homes to the next generation. Retirees who have an extra bedroom or two are offering college students and young twenty-somethings affordable housing. Given that there are an estimated three million unoccupied rooms in the U.S. that could be rented out to younger people, that amounts to enormous untapped potential for intergenerational living that benefits everyone.

The Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot program in Boston pairs graduate students with empty-nesters who have a room available to rent. Through the program, students are able to save thousands in housing costs. Older homeowners reap benefits such as having help with home maintenance, increased social interaction, and decreased loneliness. Additionally, hosts report a feeling of pride in having something to offer students to help them achieve their goals. Participants in the program overwhelmingly reported positive experiences and would recommend the program to others.

Ready to make a change in your housing situation?  Check out our services here or follow this link to contact us.

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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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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.