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For many older Americans, moving is a daunting task. These organizers can help.

For many older Americans, moving is a daunting task.  These organizers can help.

The four-bedroom home where Ray and Beth Nygren had lived for 20 years in Auburn, Washington was about 2,400 square feet. The two-bedroom apartment that awaited them in a nearby independent and assisted living complex was less than half the size.

They moved — “maybe a little hesitantly,” said their daughter Bonnie Rae Nygren — because both had heart valve replacement surgery last year and Beth Nygren had complications. The single step from the living room to the dining room or down to the family room had become difficult for her with a walker.

She had already fallen. “They thought it was a very minor thing, but it was really eye-opening for us,” Bonnie Rae said. “Another fall could make a big difference in her life.”

The couple’s three children suggested that with Beth, 85, battling multiple sclerosis, and Ray, 87, with heart failure, “maybe it was time to downsize and move into a senior living complex draw,” said Bonnie Rae.

Earlier this year, the family began sorting through 65-year-old possessions. “As we browsed, we realized how much stuff they had,” recalls Ms. Nygren. “How many towels do you need? What dishes would you like to eat? What pictures would you like to have on the walls? And what about the things you can’t take?” The process felt overwhelming.

The family had never heard of senior movers until the seniors’ facility recommended a few, including RR Move Co.

The older Nygrens almost balked when owner Rebecca Ricards walked through their home, spoke to them about their concerns, took lots of photos — and a $5,400 award for planning the move, packing their belongings and setting up the new ones Apartment including relocation called vans and moving companies.

But her experience and confidence reassured her and they hired her, with her son contributing part of the cost.

About 1,100 such companies belong to the National Association of Senior & Specialty Move Managers, which provides training and certification and requires its members to have liability insurance and adhere to a code of ethics.

Depending on the needs of clients, moving manager services include sorting and organizing items, working with a moving company, and using a floor plan to determine what fits where in the new apartment.

They prepare the new home, from the spices in the cupboards to the towels on the shelves; What is left over can be sold, donated or disposed of. Although Ms. Ricards charges by job, most movers charge $65 to $125 an hour, with large regional variations, said Mary Kay Buysse, the association’s co-general manager.

This isn’t for everyone, but most clients often move into privately funded senior living facilities after selling a home and can afford the extra expense. Customers on a smaller budget may be able to purchase some services, not the full package. Family members can also bear the costs.

“It’s not just about packing and unpacking,” said Ms. Buysse. “You work with clients and family for weeks or months and handle possessions for a lifetime. You have to be a good listener.”

Older people move significantly less often than younger people. A 2022 Census Bureau report found that from 2015 to 2019, about 6.2 percent of the population over the age of 65 had moved in any given year, compared to about 15 percent of the younger population. Still, older people migrate at over three million adults a year. The rate increased among those over 85 and people with a disability.

The most common reasons for moving? According to a survey published last year in the Journal of the American Planning Association, proximity to family members topped the list, especially for those over 75. Respondents also cited better neighborhoods and lower housing costs.

Although senior movers often work with adult children to help them move their parents, the industry is seeing an increase in younger seniors hiring managers themselves, Ms Buysse added.

A native of New York, Alissa Ballot had already downsized from a house in Florida to an apartment in Chicago when she decided “it was time to move home” in 2021. But selling her Chicago apartment while she was looking for an apartment in New York during the pandemic has come at “point of mental breakdown,” said Ms Ballot, 67, a retired attorney. “There were all those balls in the air – a few balls too many.”

Dawson Relocation Services in Chicago charged her less than $1,000 (at $65 an hour) to coordinate the move. “I was able to make an appointment to get on a plane with a couple of suitcases and leave the rest to them,” Ms Ballot said. “It was a miracle.”

She unpacked on her own but didn’t have to return to clean up and close her Chicago apartment. Marnie Dawson even helped her file claims when movers damaged some of Ms Ballot’s belongings.

(In addition to senior relocation managers, senior relocation workers may encounter real estate agents, attorneys, senior housing staff and others who are “certified relocation and transition specialists.” About 1,000 individuals have passed this certification exam, said Donna Surges Tatum, chair of the Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist Certification Board . The National Association of Realtors also designates “Senior Real Estate Specialists.”)

Moving older people brings with it special challenges. Unlike younger movers, they tend to move to smaller rather than larger spaces – after decades of having more time to accumulate things. And their families are often involved, for better or for worse.

Part of a removals manager must also be a social worker. “Sometimes we deal with people with cognitive problems. That’s where the family dynamic comes into play,” said Diane Bjorkman, whose company Gentle Transitions, which serves the sister cities, is the oldest and probably the largest senior relocation management company in the country.

An unbiased professional can often relieve tension. “It’s not about you telling your mother, ‘Don’t take the torn armchair,'” Ms. Björkman said. “It’s someone else saying, ‘Maybe another chair would work better.'”

My sister and I hired a senior moving manager for our father, who was moving into an independent apartment, when it became clear that discussing issues like the exact number of identical plastic flashlights he needed could go on for months. We left it to a third party.

Ultimately, however, the customer decides. A woman who hadn’t cooked in 20 years insisted she had to hold onto a certain roasting pan, Ms Björkman recalled. As someone who remembered the depression, the woman also argued that a freestanding freezer was a crucial source of comfort — even when it’s filled with expired groceries.

The roaster can be disassembled to fit under the bed in the new apartment, Ms Björkman said. The freezer – still full of groceries – served as a side table in the living room.

The Nygrens made no such unusual requests. Her kids spent weeks sorting and sorting, and Ray Nygren — a retired engineer — drew detailed plans of the new home and showed where items went.

RR Move Co. did the rest, packing one day in March and moving into their new apartment the next day. Around 6pm, Ms Ricards and her team called the family and said they were ready for what she calls “the big reveal”.

“We walked in, and it was like walking into your home,” Beth Nygren said, crying on the phone. There were no boxes in sight. The movers had made the beds, set the clocks, and had Ray’s computer running.

“Everything was in its place: clothes in the closet, pictures on the wall, things in the drawers,” Ms Nygren said. “You could just start living.”

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