“They” weren’t kidding when they listed moving as one of life’s top stressors.
The majority (though not all) of our clients are downsizing during more difficult times - this might mean a move into a senior community when seniors or family members realize remaining home alone might not be the best or safest option or when someone (like myself) has to move from the family home due to a divorce.
After experiencing what I would honestly describe as the easiest move I’ve ever made, it still wasn’t easy. Getting to be a Silver Linings Transitions client was eye opening and as a result, I started thinking along the lines of how can we make the transition as stress-free as possible and make the new place feel like home.
Here’s how we made adjustments to our service and some tips you can use as well:
We now use an “orange” sticker for our clients to identify when there is something in their home they want set up exactly as it is. We will photograph the item and then put it back exactly as we found it (only we will dust or clean it before putting it back.). This can be a photo collection on the wall or a curio cabinet with mementoes.
While we try our best to keep things "as is" in dressers by stuffing them with paper so things don't slide. Sometimes this isn’t possible because the dresser is too heavy for the mover or because you are leaving behind built ins. Whenever possible, we will put the items back as we’ve found them. With all the buzz about “sparking joy” though, we have had clients excited for us to use some of the tricks they see on the famous reality show on organizing and we can do this too!!
We recognize that it’s very humbling to have people going through your underwear drawer (or any other spaces) that might make you feel “exposed”. If there is an area or items you don’t want us to touch, we will leave a box for you to pack discretely and we’ll bring it to your new home, leaving it unopened (no questions asked).
We have label makers for drawers and cabinets. You can peel them off whenever you’re ready. We will also leave notes for you if we have to use creative spaces for things that get moved - like using under the bed storage when we are downsizing.
I think it's important for me to note, unlike our clients, I was spared the stress of worrying about the logistics. Although we tell our clients to trust us, they really never do until they walk in and see their new homes.
Home is our safe haven. It's the place we can hopefully go to escape the pressures of life and retreat. When we move, this safe space is shaken up. Change is not usually thought of as easy. As a reminder, here is a link to a previous article sharing some tips to help you get through your move.
A client getting ready to move from her home into independent living in a senior community recently asked us for a list of the kitchen items she should plan to take with her when she moves.
Independent living has kitchens though some are small “mini” kitchens and some are larger than the ones in many homes.
Regardless of the kitchen size, any kind of downsizing should involve a realistic view of your life. Are you still making layer cakes or homemade waffles? Most senior communities provide at least two meals a day. In fact, food is such a central part of senior living, communities poach top chefs from top rated restaurants (and from each other).
We moved a client who’d gone to culinary school and loved cooking. Now, at 80, she’s over cooking and left most of her kitchenware behind.
Not only should you consider what you enjoy but also consider how and whether you will entertain. Are you going to be hosting large dinner parties? If not, do you need a set of 12 dishes? Are there are dishes you’ve saved for special occasions? Why not use those? They are meant to be enjoyed. Even if they aren't dishwasher safe, how often will you need to run a dishwasher. Of course, be aware if you heat food in a microwave.
It might mean more to know a loved one is enjoying those dishes but if they aren’t wanted, try not to take it personally. It’s not a reflection of you but rather a reflection on the minimalist (and disposable) society we are living in today. Whether you decide to keep a partial set for yourself or decide to sell the whole collection, Replacement, Ltd. is a great place to buy or sell pieces.
When making kitchen decisions also take into account your physical health. If you have arthritis, consider stocking your kitchen with items made for arthritic hands. Attached is a good guide for arthritic appropriate gadgets.
If reaching is difficult, which is common problem for people as they age, focus on what will go into lower cabinets. If an item will be difficult to access, will you really use it or need it?
After taking your lifestyle and health into consideration, you can use this as a general guide for stocking any kitchen.
As I write this blog, I am actually away with my senior daughter for her college interviews. It occurs to me preparing for life in a senior community is much like life in a dorm. As I get closer to helping my daughter leave home and set up her own “place”, I will likely write more on this. For now, I thought it might be helpful to have this checklist for dorm living since there are many similar items and needs.
Jami Shapiro is President of Silver Linings Transitions. As a cancer survivor, she embraces aging and the challenges it presents.