Three years ago I knew Silver Linings Transitions was the work I was meant to be doing. The whole business "came to me". I was working part time at a cancer foundation when my good friend, Heidi Loren, told me about a friend of hers running an eBay business helping seniors sell belongings online. We opened an eBay business and started learning all we could. Heidi stumbled on an organization, the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) who only a few months later would be holding their national conference in San Diego.
During the conference, I had that "a-ha" moment many hope for and knew I found the work I was meant to be doing. While I knew this was the right work, the timing was hard as both Heidi and I had busy lives and bar/bat mitzvahs to plan. We agreed to put the business on hold.
Once summer and the bar/bat mitzvahs were behind us, we reconvened only Heidi had to step out from the business because her husband had started his own consulting business and it had taken off and he needed her help. Heidi and her husband were both the financial backers and her husband Stefan, was helping with the logistics of starting a business. Starting a business with two people I liked and trusted very much, in an industry that felt "right" was an easy decision but when
Heidi stepped aside, I had to reevaluate my plan.
I'd run my real estate business while living in Florida but that was in an established industry and I always worked under a broker. Now I was starting in an industry, senior move management, that even as.a Realtor working with seniors, I had never heard of.
First, I looked for a new partner hoping to find someone who was organized and would balance my skill set. After months of searching, I changed my approach and began looking for a team of women rather than a partner. What better vehicle than Facebook to get the word out?
The picture above was my first post and another step on the path towards creating Silver Linings Transitions. As these things "happen", the first person who contacted me was a woman who had stepped off the career path when she had her daughter (18 years earlier). She shared how difficult it was to find work when there was a gap on a resume. Additionally most women who raise children can not resume their careers because there are now family responsibilities to consider.
This, along with challenges middle age women face, competing against younger women, sparked my passion to make Silver Linings Transitions both a company who could manage the transition for our clients but also become a place where women could "transition" back into the work force.
When we pay attention, life unfolds exactly as it should. It's usually not what you expect but as John Lennon says, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Before and afters show how we recreate the feeling of home
Almost anyone working in the senior industry has a fondness and respect from our own experience with beloved grandparents We see past their age and recognize they were and many still are, significant contributors to our society. One of the great frustrations of the American culture in general is the way we discard older adults. One of the things I love about our work is hearing the stories and seeing the pictures of our clients lives. The wisdom they impart contributes greatly to the way I now live.
Silver Linings Transitions has had the opportunity to work with judges, attorneys, retired service men, Ice Capade dancers, Hollywood directors and models. Last week I cohosted Bryan Devore's Facebook Live show promoting our upcoming event , Moving Towards Tomorrow, helping people gather the information they need to make decisions about their "Golden Years". One of the guests, a 92-year-old Las Villas de Carlsbad resident, was an original cast member from the Little Rascals. She was a total hoot and went on and on about how much she loved community living.
She clearly embraced it and took advantage of the many opportunities it affords. For many though, the fear of the unknown and the perceived loss of independence keeps them trapped in a home they can no longer maintain and often living in isolation.
The last client we worked with is a clear example of waiting too long. .
The Carlsbad community reached out about a 30 year retired Navy Captain who's wife was in skilled nursing while he was on dialysis and rapidly declining.
After meeting with him the next day, it was clear he needed to be moved into assisted living as soon as possible When we walked out of our appointment, I knew we were about to eat an elephant in one big bite but I also knew it was absolutely essential. He was very frail and struggled for breath yet insisted on climbing stairs.. He was unkempt wearing dirty clothes and the home smelled from rotten food, urine and poor hygiene.
Our team was already on a big job including unpacking in Tarzana and our regular mover was booked. Having recently disappointed a past community whose client need to be moved the next day, I admit I was trepidatious about doing another quick turnaround. But, I've learned sometimes you say yes because it's the right thing and then do whatever you have to do to make it happen. In the absence of proper preparation, we met with the client for only two very short floor planning and sorting sessions. It was clear he was overwhelmed so I asked if he would allow us to make decisions based on our experience moving other clients.
We carefully went through couples belongings selecting beautiful mementoes, photographs and personal items we thought were most important and/or loved. We also contacted the son who lived across country and identified the items most important to him.
The day of the move, the client was supposed to meet us in the lobby for an update since he didn't have a cell phone. He never showed. I'd left him a detailed note realizing he had some cognitive impairment but by 8 p.m that evening, he had still not arrived. At that point, I called the police and they told me neighbors were with him in his home which he believed had been robbed. (This man has been living independently and is still driving.)
He finally arrived at 12:25 a.m.
In the end, it's comforting to know the client is safe in his new community and we've created a new home that is clean, organized and closely resembles his old home. Had the move been made proactively, he might have enjoyed the perks of community living and the freedom from household responsibilities.
As the owner of a senior move management company, I have the opportunity to work with a person when they go through what will likely be the most difficult transition they’ll face in their lifetime. In fact, the transition into senior communities is medically identified as Relocation Stress Syndrome. I have seen healthy clients require hospital visits, experience cognitive impairment and it goes without saying visible stress.
As a society, we try and gloss over or pretend we don’t know what the weight of this transition means. But, I’m going to write this as life actually occurs. We do pass on and our belongings represent the life we’ve lead, the dreams we’ve had and our desire to be remembered.
We need to address the fears and concerns of the person moving. We all need to be heard and sometimes talking about it, really does help everyone.
For “The Greatest Generation” seniors, there is even more tied to to letting go of their belongings because their generation lived in different times. They grew up in a time of scarcity and furniture was built to last. I remember moving a couple who’d been together 60+ years and the couch they brought to their senior community had been a wedding gift.
For later generations, we have IKEA and other discount furniture stores. We dispose of couches every couple of years because they don’t cost as much and aren’t as durable. Not to mention we don’t share the experience of having had to ration.
Another difficulty is the realization that things treasured and collected, aren’t wanted. As an only grandchild, I declined my grandmother’s wedding china. I loved my grandmother dearly and took a favorite lamp but I simply didn’t have use or space for it but it didn’t mean I didn’t love or wouldn’t remember her.
Adding on another layer, when adult children get involved in the process, often times feelings get hurt and the person being moved resents being “parented” by adult children. When a professional comes in and uses a floorplan to show a senior they won’t be able to fit something, it seems to carry more weight. Most importantly though, working with a third party, like a senior move manager, allows the parent/child relationship to remain in tact while they support one another through the transition. (This is often a tough transition for both the parent and the adult children.)
My own transition as a divorcing woman gave me an empathy for our clients. I threw away the beautiful collage I made as a wedding gift for my ex and the sign that hung on the construction site of our first home. They represented things I’d envisioned for my life. Throwing those things away was admitting that those dreams would not be realized and that this part of my life was over.
Every ending has a beginning and this is the impetus behind our company name Silver Linings Transitions. In all situations adjusting our attitude and looking at something from a different perspective really does make all the difference.
By the way, the photos at the top...one is a senior community and one is a resort ;)
One of the most difficult things our clients face is having to part with cherished mementoes and souvenirs they've collected from a lifetime of experiences. Whether it's artwork from their children, a collection they prized or a parent's belongings, saying goodbye is never easy. It represents the loss of a time gone by, an unfulfilled dream or a loved one who is no longer here. More than that though, it marks the end of a chapter.
What I've discovered is that so many times, seniors are reluctant to let go of their belongings and this "stuff" keeps them stuck in their homes and the old chapters rather than enjoying life and making new chapters. Like seniors who are making a major life transition and shedding their belongings, as someone who is divorcing, I am facing the same thing.
My garage was filled with lots of stuff- some very easy to part with and some, much more difficult.
When I was first engaged, my ex-husband and I began construction on our first home. The sign "Future Home of Goldfarb Shapiro" was placed on our lot and then hung in our garage for 15 years.
There were tears in my eyes when I put it in the garbage. I could NEVER have parted with the sign without the gentle guidance of two fabulous women, both team leads, who took on the task of helping me with the sorting and organization of my garage, Lisa Gerardo and Kim Witt.
I am happy to say that one week later, my garage is still clean and organized and I feel very happy about being there. I have no regret about throwing out the sign. In fact, it empowered me and I've since shed several other mementoes and tokens from my married life.
Here are a few statistics about STUFF that might make you think differently about holding onto it:
1.There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).
5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).
6. Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping (The Daily Mail).
If you are getting ready for a move, going through a life transition or you are overwhelmed by your own STUFF, we have a great team that can help.
When working with our senior clients, the process of moving is COMPLETELY overwhelming. While we work with clients facing cognitive impairment, even clients who have no issues with it experience some memory loss due to the stress. There is actually a medical term identified as "Relocation Stress Syndrome". For seniors, making this transition from their homes to senior communities, they will experience both physical and emotional tolls including memory loss. We always let our clients know before the move starts that this is normal and that they shouldn't panic.
"Forewarned is forearmed."
Moving takes an emotional toll on clients who aren't seniors too and stress can cause memory loss for anyone.
Because of this, and because it's always helpful to have lots of pockets when packing and unpacking, we wear "mango" aprons so our clients can easily identify the Silver Linings Transitions team members.
Some of our team members will do some jobs like sorting on days when we aren't packing for the move. Our clients appreciate the consistency when having new people come into their home and the mango makes us easily identifiable.
The mango also represents "bright" and we try and help our clients focus on the "Silver Lining" or what positive things are coming with their move. Perhaps it's less cooking and cleaning. Perhaps it's organized activities.
Whatever the benefit and regardless of age, we'd love to wear our mango aprons and help you "MOVE TOWARD A BRIGHTER TOMORROW'.
Moving is stressful - Let us take away the worry and work
Getting a home ready to sell, properly marketed and successfully closed at a worthy price is certainly a big part of the process but so much more is involved and it can really make the move stressful.
In the time span of 10 years, I sold 3 of my personal homes, bought another one and lived in 2 rentals. I know first hand moving is not easy!!
The last move my family made was across the country from Florida. This was the only time movers did the packing. Every other time, I did it juggling work and small children.
This is why we offer FREE PACKING services for any home we sell. If moving is regarded as one of life's top five stressors, we want to do what we can to make it a bit easier.
Movers are typically hourly laborers who come in, pack by zone and utilize more packing paper then should be environmentally legal. There is no mindfulness involved like sorting and grouping. For my cross country move, the Wii remotes didn't make it but the garbage pale from my kitchen (packed with my garbage!!!) DID!!!
Prior to packing for our clients, we spend time sorting and getting organized. When we pack, like items are together and boxes are labeled/color coded so you'll know exactly where they belong. We'll also prioritize the boxes so you'll know which should be opened first..like the coffee pot!!
Most importantly, if you've worked with Jami Shapiro to sell your home, you won't have to pay any money for this service.
If you'd like to reduce the stress from your move, never have to look at box and focus on getting acclimated and settled as soon as possible, for an additional fee, we can unpack your home, get the pantry and linen closets organized, hang your pictures and take all the boxes and packing paper with us when we leave you.
One of the most difficult parts of the move is living in boxes and feeling unsettled. Let us take the "WORRY and WORK" out of your next move.
TA DA!! We created a comfy home in ONE DAY!!
It is estimated by 2025, 7.1 million American seniors over the age of 65 will have dementia. This will be a 40% increase in the next 10 years. Having a family connection to this disease allows me to see the toll in takes on caregivers. At some point, these seniors will require round the clock care which is why many senior communities are adding memory care residences.
We were approached by Brenda Martinson, owner of San Diego Personal Business Services, a Financial Organizing/Business Consulting company to implement a move for her senior client from Carlsbad by the Sea to a memory care residence. (Learn more about Brenda by clicking here to visit her website.)
Brenda's client, affected with dementia, was unable to make decisions so Brenda reached out to the family and hired us to handle the move provided we could do it in one day as it would be the least traumatic approach for the client.
Brenda treated her client like family and wanted what was in the her client's best interest so putting her reputation at stake to work with us was a BIG DEAL!!
Prior to the move, we worked with Brenda and identified what resources and strategic partners would be necessary to implement the move. On moving day, we were able to pack and unpack while the family kept our client at the beach enjoying San Diego. In addition to packing and unpacking, our team carefully put together pictures and displayed mementoes from her life so she would have familiarity with her new environment. By packing and unpacking, we were able to get to know the client and create a space close to the one she was leaving.
Here are a few pictures of what our team did to make her room feel like "home".
For the client, the day started like any other. Sleeping in her own bed, getting ready for the day and leaving everything just as it was. While she spent the day at the beach visiting family, we packed up her home, worked with the movers.
At the end of the day, she came home to a freshly made bed, toothbrush by the sink and her belongings put away and decorated. We even laid her blanket out the way she liked it and kept her bed in the same position. One of my favorite touches was a butterfly pin that we hung on her headboard to cover a stain.
The client was able to get ready for her day just as she would on a normal day out. We took pictures and did our best to keep the things out on the counter the way she was used to.
We organized all the clients toiletries and created a nice neat environment (although the new bathroom was MUCH smaller with significantly less space and the client went from two bathrooms down to one.
"Just so very pleased with what you and your team did for my client...you took a small drab room and turned it into a delightful home...well decorated with thoughtful touches.
Thank you for making the process so smooth."
San Diego Personal Business Services
We make it look easy...it isn't. It's crazy and chaotic but you'll never know because the moment you walk into your new home, all you'll see is calm.
Here's how it all works...
1. We come to your home and do a FREE CONSULTATION. You get a chance to meet us, we get a chance to meet you and then you'll decide whether we are the "right fit" for you and your move. We might be spending lots of time together and we'll be going through your intimate and valuable possessions. We want to make sure you feel comfortable.
During my yoga practice today, the instructor said something very profound as it relates to the senior move business. She told us to focus on the transition from one pose to the other. By focusing our energy on getting to the destination, we miss the journey. Moving through yoga poses can certainly be rushed but spending time, moving slowly helps us appreciate the experience and the way our body feels.
The same can be said for the transition of getting from one home to the next. Sure we can expedite the process and as move managers we can even do the entire thing without the client but SHOULD WE?
Jami Shapiro is a seasoned Realtor and Owner of Silver Linings Transitions. As a cancer survivor, she embraces aging and the challenges it presents.