- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 27, 2005

Moving soon? Making the transition from a longtime home to a smaller retirement unit can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to make the process smoother:

• Start early. It took a lifetime to accumulate these memories. Take time to sort through such things as photos, books and letters, and reflect on their meaning before deciding what to do with them.

• Decide what you absolutely have to have in the new place. Is your custom-made bed important to you? Is parting with your antique armoire nonnegotiable? Then work with the new floor plan and the movers to see whether those things will fit. If they won’t, you will have time to sell or give them away and not have to make a rash decision on moving day.

• Take a good look at what you have. Do you really need to take every piece of Tupperware with you to a smaller kitchen? Knowing there will be less closet space is a good reason to sort through clothes, coats and purses and give away duplicates.

• It is OK to be sentimental and to keep things — in moderation. If mementos are important, think of ways to pare down collections or display honors in scrapbooks or wall display cabinets.

• Ask the residents of the new building for advice. They will be able to share nuances, such as whether the linen closet in the new place is going to hold all 12 of your sheet sets or whether a queen-size bed will fit in the second bedroom.

• Ask the administrators at the new community for recommendations. They often have relationships with certain movers and move managers and can help ensure that you will get a good deal.

• Hire professional help. A senior move manager knows whom to call to haul away trash, donate furniture and pack boxes. A professional also can help ready your new place on moving day.

This will cost money but will save your back muscles and limit time and stress. “I call it an insurance policy,” says Mary Ann Brewer, a Northern Virginia-based senior move manager and founder of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. “It will add one-third more to the cost of your move, but you will not end up in the emergency room.”

• If you must sell your current home, plan in advance. When the call comes that a retirement unit is ready for you, you might have to act quickly. Start sorting through closets well in advance and make home repairs and cosmetic changes, such as paint or carpeting, so you will be able to put your old home on the market immediately.

• Accept all offers of help. If friends ask for something to do, think of a specific task for them.

• Consider temporarily renting a storage space. This will enable you to move clutter out of your current home to ready it for sale. This also will buy you some time to go through each box without time constraints.

Organize the storage unit boxes by priority — ones that need to be looked at right after the move; ones that should be gone through within a year; and ones you will get to eventually.

• Adult children should recognize that they may feel sentimental, too, if the home the parents are leaving was the family home for many years. Get your personal belongings out of the house sooner rather than later. This will get the process moving for the seniors.

• Don’t wait until the last minute to call charities if you want to donate clothes and furniture. Many schedule pickups weeks in advance, so make sure you are on the schedule well ahead of moving day.

Sources: Author Joy Loverde; senior move managers Esther Berg, Genevieve Auguste, Nancy Loyd and Mary Ann Brewer

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