There is a growing industry that provides relocation assistance to older adults and their families. A lot of seniors are turning to professionals to make informed decisions to avoid the costly mistakes and remorse that can accompany major lifestyle transitions. The guidance that is available covers such things as whether to move, where to live, potential financial implications, sorting personal items, assisting with decluttering, working with a realtor and mover referral services, and helping to manage the move without the emotional and physical stress that can follow. Often these professionals have backgrounds in law, accounting, appraising, project management, psychology, social work, gerontology, health care, nursing, and psychology.
With the major asset of most older adults – their house – this kind of assistance is the most common. The hands on support that is available includes organizing, reducing and ‘right’sizing with sensitivity and respect for what this process represents psychologically for the older adult, cleaning and preparing the home for sale, arranging shipments and storage, waste removal as well as overseeing the packing and unpacking process. Creativity is often a trade mark of this kind of assistance suggesting that when that cherished item no longer fits in a “downsized” lifestyle that the item be lovingly photographed before donation or recycling; helping the older adult let go and move on. Similarly, sorting through sets of china and having access to knowledgeable appraiser or auctioneer can help get top-dollar for unsuspecting items. The advice of a professional reduces clutter and minimizes the chaos and stress associated with moving. Services are also available to set up the new home with necessary supports, including arranging for a meal plan service and transportation for shopping, or even coordinating with trades people to set up bathroom safety bars.
The “Senior Move Management” industry, as it is becoming known, is growing with the rising rate of retirement among baby boomers and the limited ability of adult children to help out because of distance, career and family obligations. Some older adults have no family to assist or their children are older adults themselves making it a very daunting task to make a transition for a family that last moved 30 years ago. Professional assistance is well worth the relatively nominal cost to save on the physical and emotional stress this transition represents not only for the older adult but also for those around them.
Lesson Learned: We hire help at the front end of our careers for financial and estate planning, wealth accumulation and sometimes even with decorating a new home. The same is now happening with increased frequency at the back end and with this transition we will all likely face.