A Senior Move Manager (SMM) is a professional who specializes in assisting seniors and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation. The services offered by SMM may vary; however, anyone who chooses to use services from a SMM will receive much more than a relocation. While supervising the relocation logistics are critical components of our work, the focus is on the individual; rather than the boxes. There are many things to be taken into consideration when assisting a senior with a relocation, here are just a few of those.
An Individual’s Feelings
There are many unknowns when a senior makes the decision to transition into smaller living arrangements or into a retirement community. Will their house sell, will they like their new home, will they be able to make new friends, will they run out of money, will they lose their independence? Many times we serve as surrogate family; listening to their fears and concerns. Family members are not always able to be there due to work schedules and obligations. Senior Move Managers do more than just relocate you or your loved one, we help the individual cope with the emotional aspect of transitioning to a new living situation.
State of Mind
The mere thought of relocating can create a high level of anxiety. Relocation Stress Syndrome also called Transfer Trauma is a formal nursing diagnosis defined as “physiologic and/or psycho-social disturbances as a result of transfer from one environment to another.” It is also defined as “the combination of medical and psychological reactions to abrupt physical transfer that may increase the risk of grave illness or death. We experience this traumatic reaction quite often in our line of work. We do a lot of listening and assuring the individual we are there to help them through all the aspects of the process.
When we assist our customers with their floor plans, we take their health limitations into consideration. Issues to keep in mind – will they need a walker, wheelchair – are they using a hospital bed, etc. These needs play a major part in creating a floor plan. If a customer is suffering from a form of dementia, we look at how we can mirror the layout of their current home to make it as familiar to them as possible.
As we age, attention to detail is not always what it was when we were younger. As some individuals age, they may have a tendency to become a pack rat or they simply don’t see things as they once did. Whatever the case, helping them sort through what they actually need to keep requires patience and understanding.
Deciding what to take
I have often times told my customers that after they have taken me through their home, that I can almost tell them what items they will want to take with them. We listen to their stories, (which is part of the job I love), and you become connected to your customer on a different level. It does not matter if that piece of furniture is scarred with scratches or has red fingernail polish on the corner, because it’s the memory of how those scratches happened and how the polish was spilled that matters. Saying good-bye to their possessions is like saying good-bye to a part of their life.
Families often want to help, but a times there are issues that prevent them from being there. Adult children are caught between helping their parents, managing their careers, as well as attending to other obligations. Seniors are staying in their homes much longer than before, and many times their children are seniors themselves. As children of elderly parents, it is sometimes very hard to remember that this is about your parents and what they want to take and what will make them happy.
I am a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). The NASMM mission is to facilitate the physical and emotional aspects of relocation for older adults, to increase industry awareness, to establish a national referral network, to enhance the professional competence of members, and to promote the delivery of our services with compassion and integrity. Being a member of the national network of NASMM enables us to coordinate moves for individuals all over the United States.