Preparing for a move to senior living takes time, energy, and a lot of organization. It’s no wonder families are turning to professional organizers for help with tasks such as downsizing, packing, unpacking, and coordinating the move.
Of course, professional organizing is not a one-size-fits-all scenario—families can customize the experience by taking advantage of one or all services offered.
“It’s as complex or as simple as the client wants it to be,” says Sara Getzkin, owner of Hands On! Organizing Services in California.
Downsizing for Senior Living
Families typically enlist outside help because they feel overwhelmed and they don’t know where to start, says Getzkin. Professional organizers bear some of the physical, mental, and emotional burden of moving, providing relief for families in a stressful season.
“Clients can sit in a chair and make decisions with me,” says Getzkin, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “They don’t have to lift a finger.”
What’s more, professional organizers help seniors stay on track instead of getting stuck on a trip down memory lane. They also prevent seniors from taking more stuff than the new space allows.
“In most senior living communities, there is no storage,” explains Getzkin. “They don’t want you to be tied down to your stuff; they want you to be active.”
Beyond the Trash Can
To cut the clutter, Getzkin works with auction houses and estate companies to sell precious items, and coordinates donations through charities and organizations like Freecycle. As an environmentally conscious organizer, she doesn’t like to just throw things in the garbage—and her clients appreciate the extra effort.
“I try to get things to people who can use them,” she says. “My clients feel good knowing that someone is going to appreciate the item. They achieve their goal, and their stuff isn’t in the garbage.”
Coordinating the Move
Similar to senior move managers, professional organizers also coordinate with movers to make the transition to senior living as seamless as possible.
Getzkin books clients three to four weeks in advance, and helps families create a timeline for the move. Though the 1st and 15th of the month are popular dates to move, she discourages families from booking those dates. Why? Because when moving companies are extra busy, you can get stuck with the second or third string of movers—not the “cream of the crop,” she says.
When the move date arrives, Getzkin encourages clients to either sit in one area or leave the house altogether. “It can be traumatic to have a bunch of people descending upon your house,” she says. It’s her job to keep track of all the boxes and answer all the questions on moving day—so families don’t have to.
Unpacking in Senior Living
After the movers have done their job, Getzkin helps seniors get settled in their new home. She advises them on how to best set up their rooms for clear walkways and a clutter-free space.
“I don’t want to hear that someone is sitting in a sea of boxes in their new place,” she says. “I would rather have the place walk-in ready—with sheets on the bed and a toothbrush in a cup.”
Above all, she says, the moving process must take your family’s well-being into account.
“If you need an extra few days or a week, take it,” says Getzkin. “This is not a process that should be rushed.”
DISCUSS: What would motivate you to hire a professional organizer for a senior living move?