Jan Tienhaara, owner of highly rated Senior Life Transitions, also of Fishers, Indiana, says families should remain tight-lipped about what items to keep or discard. It’s an emotional — not rational — decision, and imposing outside views on an item’s value increases hostility.
“My goal is to find out what they love the most, what they want,” Tienhaara says. “We’re going to make it work.”
To ease his mother’s transition, Balog, who hired Senior Life Transitions, adhered to his mother’s wishes. He took her shopping for new furniture at her favorite store and bought her a new car, although she hasn’t driven in 10 years. The car sits in the parking lot of her assisted living community.
“She said, ‘Kevin, I’ve always had a car. I don’t want to feel another sense of loss,’” Balog says. “She was already going through the loss of her husband. She knew she was going to be losing her house.”
It’s that kind of compassion that makes it easier for older adults to accept moving, experts say.
“So many times, our house defines who we are,” says Jennifer Pickett, associate executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), an organization that certifies movers and professional organizers to assist seniors. “There’s a loss of independence, loss of self that’s really at the core of this. It really has to be handled very gently. It’s not about coming in and how quick we can get stuff into boxes. It’s about going through this person’s life and helping them part with possessions and not part with memories.”
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