Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Transitions Ballad

Jean Long Manteufel, senior move manager and CEO of Long’s Senior Transitions (Jean@TransitionsWithJean.com) writes her Transitions column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging.  

She recently posted a very creative poem that begins with the reality of a senior’s challenge, doubt and stress associated with downsizing.  However, the perspective starts to shift and the senior soon recognizes the enjoyment of the new adventure.

Jean captures the transition perfectly and deserves tremendous credit for her creativity. The poem flows to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey."


Transitions: In tune with seniors ready to move

March 6, 2016

              Transitions Ballad

On top of my table, all covered with stuff,
Are decades of treasures, going through them is tough.

My kids say, “Mom, leave here.” I wish they would know,
To leave this old house, well, it hurts my heart so.

My dear and I lived here, raised our family of four.
Now I am without him, I hurt to the core.

But time has a way of ... moving along.
I can’t keep this house up; I’m just not as strong.

My house has outgrown me; the upkeep’s such stress.
The windows need washing. The garden’s a mess.

The times they have changed now; I don’t move so quick.
Doing laundry in the basement, of that, I am sick!

Old neighbors have left here; I feel so alone.
This new place, I am told, will soon feel like home.

Is it true what folks tell me? I will make friends anew.
It’s hard to make changes, so I hope it is true.

It’s so overwhelming. Where do I begin?
The list is so long that — I guess I’ll jump in.

“Call a senior move manager,” my friend tells me true.
“She’ll help you consider, just what to do.”

The gal helps me pick out — the things I should take:
The sofa and chairs for — this new home I’ll make.

“Take things that are useful, and that you adore.
Fewer things will be needed.” She says “Less is more.”

From the den I will take a ... thing I enjoy,
The table my dear made, when he was a boy.

From the bedroom, so special, photos of all.
My family mementos, to adorn the new wall.

She says “Plates and glasses, of each, just take six.”
This “Now-sizing” idea, is starting to click.

The movers have pulled up. It’s now time to go.
Good-bye to my old house, I will miss you so.

Once I have my things out, the kids can go through
And take what they wish, they are their memories too.

My gal will then clear out and sell what she can,
Then get the house ready — to list. That’s the plan.

I’m so glad I called her and saved myself grief.
She made this job easy. What a relief!

I know this adventure — will bring on new things.
It’s time to look forward — to whatever life brings.

A month after moving, my apartment’s just so.
I wish we had done this, a few years ago.

I’m busy with projects. I’ve met some friends new
And re-found an old one — from back in high school.

My new home is lovely, so cheery and bright.
Don’t tell my children, but perhaps they were right.

Consid’ring a new home? To your house bid adieu.
Make a transition; you’ve still got living to do!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Downsizing to the Community. Be Disciplined

During past posts, I have outlined in detail the essential steps in downsizing.  The MOVE (sort, pack, transport, unpack & design) is always the most comprehensive and also the most important.  An orderly move allows the senior to transition into their new home with minimal emotional and physical stress.  Secondly, the Family selects treasures not included in the move.  Thirdly, remaining items of value are considered for SALE via auction or estate sale.  Fourthly, unsold staples are DONATED to local charities and lastly, the balance is DISPOSED (or recycled).  Now the home is ready for listing or occupancy.

The steps are all inclusive and need to be followed in chronological order.  Seems pretty simple doesn’t it?  Conceptually yes.  But, practically speaking, the answer is clearly no.  If married seniors (mom & dad) are moving from their four bedroom home (35 years occupancy and raised a family) into a two bedroom retirement community, the task is daunting.

Again, the five step process is easy to understand.  But, the challenge and the absolute key to success are in sorting.  A good benchmark is a 75% reduction in items leaving the home and heading to the community.  Moving 25% of the items into a new apartment allows the family (or senior move manager) the opportunity to design the apartment in an organized, uncluttered and functional way.  Think about it.  A new home with 30+ years of treasured furniture, paintings, photographs, clothing, and china is a showcase versus taking too many items and living inside a “storage unit”.

Okay, I know you are still with me.  But, it remains very difficult to sort.  Yes it is and as a result, let’s grab the low hanging fruit.  The number one opportunity to consolidate is the kitchen.  Remember, the seniors are moving to a community and they will receive two or three meals per day.  Secondly, holiday dinners are at the kids’ home and not the seniors’ home.  Thirdly, the retirement community knows the first two points and as a result, they do not provide very much kitchen cabinet space.  Therefore, two sets of china (formal & everyday; serving of six) and silverware are the maximum quantities.  One of everything else is more than enough.  No need for three spatulas, four soup ladles, five bottle openers…  I had a client that once was a big cook.  She wanted to take three pie pans to the new community.  Clearly, baking a pie was still a part of her interest, which is great.  But, not three pies at a time (LOL).

Secondly, clothes are another huge opportunity.  Guys take two sport coats, two suits, 5-8 sport shirts, 5-8 dress shirts and 3-5 slacks.  Everything else is overkill.  Ladies, will and should take more based on fashion and season.  But, be disciplined.  No need for 25 pairs of shoes and 25 matching purses.

Lastly, paintings/pictures are an opportunity to downsize.  There is much less wall space in the new location and much of this space will be directed toward family arrangements.  I always like to error on the side of too many family photos versus not enough.

In summary, when seniors downsize to a community remember, they offer many very attractive services.  Books (library), exercise equipment (gym), BBQ pits (outdoor patios), etc… are provided for the seniors’ enjoyment and do not require duplication.  There is a limited amount of space in the new “Shangri-La” and it requires discipline in the sorting exercise.  The fallout of taking too much stuff is facing the reality of a second move from the new apartment to reduce the clutter.  Or, living with the clutter and disorganization of a failed sorting discipline.

Be strong on the front end and you’ll be happy on the back end.