November 8, 2010


As a Seniors Move Manager I meet a lot of adult children who lament that their parent(s) won’t consider moving because it signals the end of their life……their last move.

I love sports analogies, and one struck me recently. There have been a lot of really great ninth innings of baseball games. My personal favourite was the 6th game of the World Series at the Skydome in October of 1993. The Blue Jays went to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning behind 6-5. The crowd was going crazy. In the end, thanks largely to Joe Carter, we won the game 8-6. But all anyone remembers (with great joy) is that 9th inning. That ninth inning doesn’t have to be sad or depressing, it can be the greatest inning of the game. It’s all in how you play it. When I think back to my dad, he certainly made the most out of his ninth inning, and we all have many fond memories of the years he spent living in his retirement residence.

The other perspective is that not all games end after the ninth inning. The longest game in Major League Baseball history lasted 26 innings. So you can’t assume that ‘the end is near’ when the 9th inning starts. The game may go on much longer. My dad enjoyed almost 6 years at his retirement residence. For him it truly became his home.

So if you are involved with, or are a senior who is considering moving, put on your baseball cap, step up to the plate, and prepare to swing for the fence! You might be surprised by how much fun it can be!


September 13, 2010

Tip #1: “Queen for a Day”

If you are a Boomer like I am then you may recall this TV show that ran in the late fifties/early sixties. It was an early “game show” where women vied to gain the title and a lot of great prizes.

What is the connection to moving seniors? Last week we moved Ruth and Ed, a couple in their 80’s, to a Retirement Residence. Their son and daughter-in-law were also there during the process, helping to get things organized. From the time I arrived to start the packing it was clear that Ruth was suffering from a lot of anxiety about the move. As I had time to assess the situation I realized that it was because she wasn’t in control of the process. Her health had weakened and she really didn’t have the physical or emotional strength to make all the decisions and make things happen. However, that is exactly what she had spent her whole life doing. And she felt horrible that she couldn’t be in charge of the overwhelming task at hand.

So what to do? My suggestion is to tell the senior in your life that they’re going to be “Queen (or King!) for a Day” or two. For move day, plan an interesting outing that includes events that your “queen” or “king” would love to do.  If you are managing the move you may need to enlist the help of friends or other family members to go with that special someone. Include an overnight stay so that when your “queen” or “king” arrives at their new home everything is unpacked and set up so that it looks a lot like home. You may not be able to put everything together exactly as they would have liked, but it will be good enough, and it will be a place for them to start as they make it their own.

The key to getting through the stressful event of a move is to make it fun. So treat the senior in your life like royalty, and give them a day they’ll never forget… a good way!


August 16, 2010

Moving Seniors and Minimizing Stress

If you have had the experience of moving older family members to a new home you have seen first hand how much stress these moves can cause. I have recently become aware of the labelling of this phenomenon as Relocation Stress Syndrome, or transfer trauma. It is thought that RSS can affect behaviour, mood, morbidity and even mortality. Symptoms can include sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and disorientation. If the senior already suffers from dementia, physical frailty or sensory impairment there can be additional confusion and agitation. The effects can be worse if the move is not being made by choice, and may still exist even if the senior had made a willing decision.

There are things that you can do to try to minimize Relocation Stress Syndrome.

1. Start the planning and discussion phase as early as possible. This will allow time to uncover and think through your choices, and not feel pressured into making hasty decisions.

2. Allow the senior to participate in the decision and planning process. Try as much as possible to honour their preferences and address their concerns.

3. Minimize the amount of time that their regular routines are disrupted. We try to do the packing and moving in a two day timeframe. It may be advisable to have them visit family or friends during that period.

4. Set up the new home as much as possible to replicate the layout and feel of the old home.

5. If you have amassed a team (family, friends and professionals) to make the move happen, communication throughout the process is critical. Surprises will only increase the stress of the move.

As Senior Move Managers we have years of experience helping families deal with the stress of a later life move. Contact us to set up a no charge consultation to discuss your individual situation.


July 9, 2010

Do We Need to Plan Ahead?

As with so many other questions, the answer is, “It Depends”.  Usually when people ask me if there are waiting lists for Retirement Residences my answer is that typically there are not. But there are exceptions to every rule.

This week I visited Christie Gardens which is located at Dupont and Christie in Toronto. They have been in business for 25 years and have a facility that seems to combine the best of the old and the new. This makes them very popular. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was told that the waiting time for one of their life lease units could be 12 to 18 months.

If you are planning ahead and visiting residences just so that you have an idea of where you would like to go should the need arise or the spirit move you, being told about the wait time would be a great early warning bell to alert you to put yourself on the list.

But if you didn’t plan ahead, and you need to make the change soon, you are probably out of luck.  Strike Christie Gardens off your list.  That might be okay though, because there are still a lot of Retirement Residences in the city.  But if you are like the client that I am doing a search for….that is you have some unique requirements that Christie Gardens fills nicely, then it is really unfortunate.  If you go somewhere else you may be making more compromises than you had hoped.

You never know what lies ahead.  Scouting the terrain can tip you off to things like waiting lists early, which may make your life much easier in the future.


June 26, 2010

The Importance of Research

At Trusted Transitions we help Seniors who are contemplating a move to a Retirement Residence and don’t know where to start. With so many facilities now available around large metropolitan areas, it is difficult to narrow down the choices. Here is how we go about it:

  1. Search online or through books for listings of accredited residences in your area.  These listings should give you contact information, as well as location, size, services and prices.
  2. Find approximately 10 that meet your geographic and price criteria to make a shortlist.
  3. Research the websites of your shortlist, where you should find more information about services, room layouts, etc., and will be able to view photographs of the facility.  Narrow the list as appropriate.
  4. Phone the Marketing Director of each facility. Have a list of the specific questions you want to ask. These questions should relate to any special care needs or issues that you might have. For example, a recent client was using an electric wheelchair.  Many facilities do not allow these. Narrow the shortlist as appropriate.
  5. We will then visit the facility on behalf of the client (if we haven’t recently been there), ask more questions, take a tour and leave with their glossy brochure.
  6. Rank the remaining Residences on the shortlist in terms of desirability and go through it with the Senior. This is where the glossy brochure comes in handy.
  7. Accompany the Senior on visits to the top ranked choices.

It all takes some time, but good research pays off in terms of making a good decision and making the process a less stressful one for your family member.


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