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A Place for Mom Tool Kit

Moving Tips

10 tips to downsize and ‘de-stress’ your move!

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moving for senior citizens

10. Start Early - End Happy
It’s never too early to begin the downsizing process. Begin by focusing on typical problem areas such as the attic, basement, garage, closets, and file cabinets.

9. Get Generous
Since you can’t take everything you own to your new home, now is the time to make arrangements to “gift” some of your treasures to special people in your life including, and especially family, helpful neighbors, friends, favorite organizations, or a church/synagogue.

8. Save your Memories
You may have boxes of old photos from every holiday and vacation. What do you do with them? Consider the following ways to reserve family photos and stories: audio and video recordings, copy your special photos on to CDs, or try your hand at scrapbooking. There are services that will take all your photos, slides, and videos and do it for you.

7. New Looks for Books
If you own large quantities of books, you need to spend time downsizing your collections. Books occupy lots of space and are heavy to move. Consider donations to libraries or senior centers, or sales to used bookstores. Contact a book dealer for older books with potential value.

6. Use It Up…Don’t Move It Out
Plan to use as many of your canned goods, frozen foods and paper products as possible before the move. If there are too many, think about passing them on to a local food pantry.

5. Recycle the Toxins
Take time to put together a box of household, yard and automotive cleaning products, as well as paint that are considered hazardous. Visit for more information on hazardous collection in your area.


4. Don’t Lose Touch
Create a list of people, places, and utilities/services that need to be notified of your upcoming change in address.

3. Space Plan Ahead
Most Senior Move Managers can provide you with a customized floor plan of your new residence. A floor plan will help you determine the pieces of furniture that will fit in your new home, and the best location of each. Knowing which pieces will fit in your new space will help you in your rightsizing process.

2. Pack a Survival Bag
Put together a survival bag for move day. It might include personal needs (medications, eyeglasses, toiletries, change of clothes, important papers,etc.); kitchen needs (snacks, drinks, etc.), basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, flashlight, tape, etc.); cleaning supplies (sponge, roll of paper towels, soap, etc.); and payment for the mover-be sure you know which form of payment they accept.

1. Ask for Help
Don’t be too proud or independent-minded to ask for help. Moving is not easy and you shouldn’t do it all yourself. But don’t wait until the last minute to ask for help. Some of these downsizing steps require months to accomplish. The best place to find help is through the National Association of Senior Move Managers (

Adult Children

As an adult child or family member, you may have a lot of questions about how to help the senior adult in your life and meet their needs in this time of transition. As senior move managers, we are here to support you as well.

Read More About:

What are the real benefits of senior move management services?

What makes a Senior Move Manager® different from just a moving company?

How much do Senior Move Management services cost?

I am interested in obtaining some help with my mom's move, but we can do most of the work to save money.
Can I still contact a Senior Move Manager® to do just some of the work?

Who uses Senior Move Managers®?

How to Alleviate the Stress of Moving for Older Adults

Here are some reasons why Senior Move Management is needed now and not twenty years ago:

  • The numbers tell the story. The U.S. population aged 65 and over will jump nearly 80 percent when the Baby Boom generation retires (from 2010 to 2030). By 2030, the elderly will account for one-fifth of the total U.S. population. Did you also know that Americans age 85 and above comprise the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population?
  • Today, many families are geographically dispersed and adult children are often not able to help with the moving process due to distance, career and family obligations. For family members living far away, the barriers may be geographic.
  • Many seniors have no surviving children, or increasingly, their children are older adults themselves. If illness or death precipitates the move, the family is likely already drained both emotionally and physically. They need help. Senior Move Managers® emerged to fill these gaps and to facilitate the transition for everyone involved.
  • Older adults making a transition have usually not moved in 30, 40 or 50 years and need to downsize considerably. The organizational and physical tasks associated with planning and implementing such a complex move can be overwhelming for the entire family.

As you consider the variety of options, you may be interested in obtaining some help with the move. Changing Seasons offers a menu of services from which you can choose. We can handle the entire process or just those services you elect not to do. The ultimate goal of our service is to ease the stress of the move process for older adults and family members. Please see the Downsizing, Home for Life Design and Senior Move tabs for more details.

What are the real benefits of senior move management services?

Senior move managers have significant expertise in resources and approaches that save money, reduce stress and produce quality results.

Services are client-centered and personalized to meet the client's needs and preferences. Families, particularly, should never doubt the power of an outside expert!

NASMM members are reviewed for insurance and experience requirements prior to acceptance.

Ongoing educational programs reflect the NASMM commitment to professionalism and to working with older adults.

NASMM has developed a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for all members. (Courtesy of NASMM)

What makes a Senior Move Manager® different from just a moving company?

Senior Move Managers® provide a multi-faceted approach to the move process: from space planning in the beginning to post-move support and advocacy.

Senior Move Managers® minimize the chaos and stress associated with moving by addressing all aspects of the move process. They are responsible to for creating and executing a seamless action plan, customized to the client's wishes.

They will work closely with a reputable local moving company to complete that aspect of the job.

With the gentle and expert guidance of an experienced Senior Move Manager®, older adults and families make the key decisions without the emotional and physical distress that can follow. As a result, they avoid the costly mistakes and remorse that often accompany such major lifestyle transitions.

Senior Move Managers® do so much more than simply sort, settle and move boxes; with loads of energy, enthusiasm and experience, Senior Move Managers® take the worry (and work!) out of the move.

How much do Senior Move Management services cost?

It's virtually impossible to calculate what a specific move might cost, as the fee can vary considerably by geographic region and the services requested.

Additionally, some Senior Move Manager® charge their fees on an hourly basis, while others prefer to package the cost of the entire job at one price.

NASMM members will always outline the cost of a job through a written estimate before you are required to submit payment.

I am interested in obtaining some help with my mom's move, but we can do most of the work to save money.
Can I still contact a Senior Move Manager® to do just some of the work?

Yes, most Senior Move Managers® offer a menu of services from which you can choose and you pay accordingly. The ultimate goal of this industry is to ease the stress of the move process for older adults and family members, not add to your concerns.

Who uses Senior Move Managers®?

  • Senior Move Managers® are contacted by various sources:
  • Older adults
  • Family members
  • Bank and trust officers
  • Geriatric Care Managers
  • Attorneys
  • Social service providers/social workers
  • Senior living communities
  • Physicians and allied health providers
  • Realtors
  • Staging professionals.

(Courtesy of NASMM)

How to Alleviate the Stress of Moving for Older Adults
By Margit Novack

“There are certain experiences—childbirth is one; moving is another—that nature and time definitely draw a curtain on, so you forget in between times how painful they are.”

Katherine Graham, famed publisher of the Washington Post, wrote this famous quote in her Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Personal History. Most people believe that the joy of having children makes the pain of childbirth worthwhile, just as most seniors who relocate are happy with the outcome as well. Moving allows these seniors to enjoy a new life that often includes better opportunities for socialization, stimulation, improved nutrition and exercise—all important aspects of thriving as we age. But let's not sugarcoat the truth: moving is tough for everyone, but it is toughest for elderly adults.

What is relocation stress syndrome?

Over the past two decades, increasing attention has been paid to relocation stress syndrome (RSS), which is also known as transfer trauma. RSS is a formal nursing diagnosis characterized by a combination of physiologic and psychologic disturbances that occur as a result of transferring a person from one environment to another. Symptoms of relocation stress syndrome include exhaustion, sleep disturbances, anxiety, grief and loss depression and disorientation. In seniors, these symptoms are exacerbated by dementia, mild cognitive impairment, poor physical health, frailty, lack of a support system, and sensory impairment. For these seniors in particular, the resulting confusion, depression and agitation have led to increased falls, undesirable weight loss and self-care deficits.

Although initial studies on RSS focused on outcomes of individuals moved to nursing homes and assisted living facilities without their involvement or consent, it is now generally understood that RSS can affect those who have chosen to move, been involuntarily relocated, or been placed in a care facility for mental or medical needs.

What You Can to Help Offset Relocation Stress Syndrome
Studies have shown that certain actions are successful in minimizing RSS. These actions, which can be undertaken by family members, are all hallmarks of senior move management. They include:

• Involving the senior in the decision and planning process.
• Providing the senior with an opportunity to ask questions and discuss his or her concerns.
• Honoring the individual’s preferences and allowing him or her to maintain control.
• Paying attention to details and maintain the senior’s daily routine as much as possible.
• Safeguarding the senior’s personal possessions.
• Involving the senior in setting up the new room or apartment.
• Making the new home resemble (as much as possible) the old home.
• Helping the resident become acclimated.

It is not surprising that seniors do better after a move when they are involved in the decision, have an opportunity to voice their concerns and be heard, and are able to maintain a sense of control. Anyone, regardless of age, would do better under these circumstances. The problem is: seniors often don't get this opportunity. Well-meaning family members may make decisions on their elderly loved ones' behalf, not soliciting or listening to their concerns, or simply need to move the seniors faster than they can handle. In short, family members often focus on the details of the move rather than on the person who is moving.

How Senior Move Managers Can Help
Few things speak as urgently about the benefit of using a senior move manager when relocating an elderly adult. Let the senior move manager handle the move; he or she will involve the individual and honor any preferences (it's what senior move managers do). This allows family members to focus on what they do best: attending to the needs of the person in transition, maintaining his or her routines and helping the senior become acclimated to the new environment. Nothing can entirely remove the pain of relocation, but this team approach helps everyone focus on what is truly important.

Margit Novack is the Founding President of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). Visit for more information.

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Professional Designations

Living By Design Specialist Certified Age In Place Specialist National Association of Senior Move Managers

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