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Dealing with the Stuff of a Senior Move

In a posting last week, I shared some advice from a Senior Relocation Expert on how to help an older parent or loved one make their decision to move (or not) from the family home.  Picking up where we left off, I have had the good fortune of meeting with Erin Marcus, a Transition Specialist with a company called Caring Transitions. ( ).  I posed some questions about the move itself and how a Transition Specialist can make it as easy as possible for a senior dealing with a life’s accumulation of “stuff.”

            What are the major obstacles to making a successful move?

“It most often is the emotional attachment to the ‘stuff’.  If you are helping an older person prepare for a move, be cognizant that you are dealing with an adult…it is their stuff.  You shouldn’t just be making decisions for them on what to keep based on what makes sense to you.  Not only that, but it really is not even about the object; it is the emotions and memories associated with the object.”

            How do you help an older person adjust to a new home?

“I have found in most homes, there is an area that you can tell a person spends most of their time.  It may be the den or the area around a television, for example. When we help someone move into their new home, I make it a point to recreate that environment so that they immediately have a piece of their old home in a new home.”

            Is a move different if the senior is moving to senior residential housing?

“Look for not where you will sleep at night, but how you will spend your days.  Somewhere close to family…even closer to children tends to rank high.  And Senior residential communities tend to really meet the social needs or an older adult.”

            Can you give an example of what makes for a really successful transition?

“It really begins in the sorting process.  It can make it go much more quickly with a third party involved.  It eliminates the arguments.  With the benefit of a third party helping, you relieve the stress on the family members to let them worry about the people and not the stuff.”

            Any other insights from having been in the business?

“The first month in the new home is extremely important and can set the stage for a long time to come.  Its important the people know they are not being put away or being ignored.  Also, keep an eye on the routine and the adjustments that are being made.”

Erin Marcus is the president of Caring Transitions, Chicago & North Suburbs.   Erin helps families through the process of moving, downsizing or liquidating their items as they move through life’s transitions. He can be reached at or 224-374-1996.

            Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to



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