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Downsizing Decisions and Assistance Part II

Last week’s article introduced the concept of downsizing and two local companies which are available to assist families with these transitions. These companies offer services such as:

  • Planning for furniture placement in the new home
  • Sorting of items to move and those to sell, donate, or throw away
  • Packing
  • Coordination with a moving company
  • Coordination with a realtor to stage the home to be sold
  • Unpacking and organizing in the new home
  • Coordination of the sale of unwanted items
  • Arrangements for removal of trash

When choosing a downsizing company, the structure of each business is another aspect which a family may want to consider. It was mentioned earlier that Caring Transitions of Mechanicsburg is a franchise.  There are approximately 200 locations within the United States, so corporate support is available for each individually-owned office.  Owner Carolyn Doerr has received training as a CRTS:  Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist.  Her company is bonded and insured, and conducts background checks of all employees.  New Leaf Transition is a single, privately owned entity.  Based on years of experience with personal and professional moves (26 moves in 24 years) and with a business already in place to prep homes for sale; owner Pam Shultz-Kovalewski added additional options with the goal of becoming a complete door-to-door service.   Do you need contractors to make repairs or upgrades before a For Sale sign is placed in the yard?  Pam has a list of who she calls “integrity partners” to manage tasks such as painting, plumbing, and electrical work.  She has personally vetted each contractor, and takes care of scheduling and overseeing the work for you, so that everything is completed in an orderly fashion.  Do you need some to accompany an older adult on a long distance move?  Pam can handle that too, and last year she traveled to Oklahoma, Connecticut, Florida, and the Carolinas with various clients.  She will even arrange to have the refrigerator stocked for when a client arrives in the new home.

Are these companies willing to work with clients when the complication of hoarding exists? You bet.  They may need to contract with other companies to ensure the safety of their employees, but both are willing to tackle this challenge and try to salvage those belongings which are appropriate.

Both owners acknowledged the emotion which exists with the downsizing process. While adult children often want to assist their parents this life transition, several factors influence the success of this plan.  The time commitment required and presence of a parent’s sentimental feelings when deciding what to take and what to leave behind often create frustration for the children.  Some children may fear accepting the responsibility for such a monumental task, while others may take charge and unintentionally begin to treat their parents like young children in an effort to “get it done.”    Downsizing situations are emotional and feelings of loss often are present. It is a delicate balancing act to match the wants and needs of an older adult with the availability and willingness of their children to assist in planning for and executing all of the details.

Although Caring Transitions and New Leaf Transition have been highlighted in this article, there are other companies in our area which assist older adults and their families with downsizing. The decision about which company to utilize should be based on more than just the cost estimate for the job.  Families will benefit from choosing a company which offers the specific services that are most needed, and whose employees they will trust to guide them through what may be a lengthy and intense transition.

Karen Kaslow, RN