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By Kelly Greene | Wall Street Journal | February 12, 2012
Even in a story about how adult children deal with their aging parents’ stuff (SEE PREVIOUS POST), there was too much stuff to include it all.
One newly emerging service – creating a floor plan with the furniture that would work in a new home – is provided by some senior-move managers and could be particularly helpful to adult children helping their parents move from a longtime, larger home to a smaller retirement community.
If your parents are moving to a smaller place, figure out what fits – and only move that. A floor plan, which a retirement community probably has available, can help you determine what furniture will work and where. John Buckles, president of Caring Transitions, a network of senior movers and estate-sales businesses, suggests cutting out furniture shapes and sliding them around on chart paper to decide with your parent what goes where.
“They may not like getting rid of four-fifths of what they have, but this creates a little bit of a comfort blanket for them,” he says.
Some senior movers offer formal design services to accomplish much the same thing. Susie Danick’s firm, Transitional Assistance & Design, in Gaithersburg, Md., charges $50 an hour for packing and moving, and $75 an hour for design services, including managing reupholstery, floor-plan design and furniture shopping.
Lisa Marshall recently worked with the firm to help her parents move from a four-bedroom colonial house in Alexandria, Va., where they had lived for 36 years, to a nearby retirement community. For now, they are living in a smaller apartment, which let them get off the waiting list. But they hope to move to a larger apartment soon – which meant figuring out two floor plans, as well as what went into storage for later.
The bigger pieces of furniture—many selected by Ms. Marshall’s grandmother while living in Central America–were all numbered, and everything on it would go inside and get put back in the same place, Ms. Marshall says. One van went to the new home, one went to her sister’s house in New Jersey, more things went home with her, and the rest was donated or dumped.
The services aren’t cheap, but Ms. Marshall says her family is using them so they can get her parents’ house on the market by mid-February. “The money needs to be able to be moved over to the retirement home,” she says.
On their moving day earlier this month, the family arrived at the apartment at lunchtime to check the furniture’s placement, and then returned after lunch to approve picture hanging. Everything already had been put in the kitchen cabinets. “Susie could see all the stuff and how to fit it together. She’s just got a really good eye for all those things,” Ms. Marshall says.
Now that her parents have successfully moved, “my house is completely cluttered,” she jokes. Her current projects: Culling 3,000 slides to be put on DVDs. “If nobody knows who’s in a picture, it’s tossed,” she says.
Next up: The box in her basement labeled, “Old photos and papers for Liza to review.”