By Beth Chapman
REALTORS® frequently speak with seniors who know they need to sell their home, but have the greatest reluctance to do so. They know they can no longer live well or safely on their own, and need to transition to another living arrangement. Perhaps they need to move to an independent community, an assisted living community, or nearer relatives. As you are so aware, the senior’s ambivalence about a move delays, sometimes indefinitely, you getting a good listing.
You cannot list the home until the seniors are comfortable with the idea of the move. The options are confusing, the conversations awkward, but what makes everything more difficult is when clients adamantly resist the change, despite reassurance and help from loved ones. Everyone struggles with waiting for a crisis to force the transition. A move under crisis conditions is a bad move.
REALTORS® can be of help in this situation, both to the seniors and their loved ones involved in a possible move. You can make a referral to The National Association of Senior Move Managers (http://www.NASMM.org) -- the organization of senior move managers who are located all over the country. The www.NASMM.org website has a directory allowing realtors to find senior move managers in many communities across the country.
A senior move manager can prepare seniors for a move. They listen carefully to the homeowners about their lives in their current home and about their treasures.
It's important to understand and prioritize what seniors are resisting and how you might move them forward; what are they holding onto? Are they:
• attached to life as they know it.
• overwhelmed by the physical work a move requires.
• afraid of making wrong, costly decisions with all their stuff.
• vulnerable to the loss, layers, and layers of loss.
• facing their own mortality, the move being one more step towards that.
It could be all of these factors. It is in the “listening” to and being “heard” that makes all the difference. If their lives are honored, they can make gains in de-cluttering, downsizing, and ultimately moving.
A senior move manager will talk with the seniors and find out how much of their current home they are using, their daily patterns of activities and habits. That information will then be used to create templates of the condo or apartment home options they have available, and help them figure out what furniture will fit were they to decide to move. The move manager will even measure closets to give the seniors an idea how much clothing they can comfortably bring. Because everything will not fit, the move manager will help determine what to gift, sell, donate or throw and then help implement plans to do all four tasks.
The importance of gifting at this time in the senior’s life cannot be overemphasized. If they have treasures that will not fit in the new home, but can find someone among family or friends that will be delighted to receive the treasure, they can take pleasure now in their gift. Senior move managers can help the home owner make special gifts of treasures to loved ones and friends, capture in video tape what the house looks like before the move, and capture the stories that go along with the gift of family treasures and memorabilia as they are presented.
Valuable antiques may be auctioned or consigned. Household goods may be donated to non-profit or charitable thrift shops.
The move manager will hire and supervise the movers, and help make changes with the utility and phone companies. It is the job of he senior move manager to make certain that the seniors can leave one home and arrive at the new home that is completely set up. They will follow the moving truck, unpack their belongings, put the toilet paper where it belongs, set the clocks, make the beds, put bathroom linens in place, and plug in the TV and coffee maker, arranging what they need in order to easily have a good breakfast the next day. They will also arrange to remove all the packing papers and boxes. If the senior’s next home is not in the area, there may be a second NASMM senior move manager available who can be recommended on the other end to unpack and set them up.
Seniors need to keep in mind that they are charged by the pound in a move. If they don’t move it they don’t pay for it. Downsizing before the next move is financially practical and the key to comfortably living in their next space.
Beth Chapman, Extra Daughters, Wellfleet, MA, http://www.extradaughters.com is a senior move manager and member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (http://www.nasmm.org). She can be reached at BethChapman@ExtraDaughters.com, or 508-479-1033.