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November 11, 2009

“What you are is where you were when.” Morris Massey

I first heard this phrase during management development training at IBM. Morris Massey coined the phrase in the 1970’s and it has resonated with me ever since. His premise is that the values of our past directly drive how we behave. If we took the time to understand the drivers of people’s behavior, we would be better equipped to work with them.

What triggered this memory today?  I had a conversation with a cousin over lunch and we were lamenting that an 80 something aunt is still living with a niece in the home she grew up in. Living in a large Victorian home in downtown Toronto, she climbs 20 uncarpeted steps to her bedroom and bathroom with her cane in hand. She spends most of her time sitting in the kitchen.

Being a chatterbox of sorts, we really think she would be much happier living in a retirement residence where there are activities, folks about, Bingo, the hair salon, companionship and men to flirt with.  

But, no. Not for her. She is going to stay in her home. She says, “Nothing can compare to being in your own home. There is only one way I will leave.”  Is she happy? We don’t believe so.

We need to understand that she is part of the generation of savers not spenders. Looking through their eyes, today’s rent for retirement residences is huge. They lived simply, and believe that they can continue to live simply.

I wish they could see and accept:

  • That the home they worked so hard for can now work for them because the asset value in their house will allow them to live well now rather than focussing on what it will cost them to live.
  • That it is OK to spend the money on themselves and that it is not necessary to leave it to their children. Their children would like them to be happy, healthy and living well.

As my cousin said, “Today we can say we would rather be happy and therefore make the decision to move. But will we think like that at 80?”

 I would like to think we will.

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October 5, 2009

Be Brave

Move on…you’ve got a lot to live for!

After reading an article called “Moving by Choice, Knowing Your Options” featured in last month’s Elderwise Newsletter and speaking to a client yesterday about his upcoming move, I had the idea for this blog.

I have often thought that although we eagerly move residences between the ages of 20 and 60, we eventually reach an age and say we will never leave our homes.  

So why are some of our clients moving?

  • Mr. T.  has decided to leave his 2 story family home and move to a maintenance free bungalow in a retirement community outside of the city. There he met two residents who were long time acquaintances he had lost touch with. He’s excited about rekindling these friendships and having everything looked after for him.
  • 96 year old Rita has decided to move from her family home into a retirement residence out of town to be closer to her nieces, her only family.
  • At 90, Mrs. A. is an experienced mover. When her husband died 10 years ago she sold the family home and moved into a condo. Circumstance had her move into her daughter’s home for a short time. When the youngsters became too much for her, she decided a retirement residence was a better alternative. She recently became the librarian of the residence, is meeting a ton of people and is having a ball.  
  • As a respite against the winter months in the country, my soon to be 89 year old Dad was thinking of taking advantage of the short term furnished accommodations at a retirement residence in Toronto. Instead, my brother offered to have him visit him in Vancouver where he will have his own bedroom and bath and daily chess at the local mall. As fall comes to an end, he’ll be heading for the airport for a 5 week trip.

I admire these brave folks who want to continue to enjoy life.  No matter what age, life is too short not to be happy and fulfilled! Go on. Take a chance. Make the move!


February 4, 2009

Home is Where the Heart is

In the past two months we have moved four customers across the country; seniors moving closer to family in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. What we learned was that the stress level seniors feel in this situation is much higher than in a typical “in-city” move to a retirement residence.

Why? First, so much more is unknown. It is a different city, different weather, different culture, and likely a living accommodation that they have never even seen.
Second, they feel like they are leaving their current home town forever. . That, of course, includes their house, their church, their doctor, their friends, and their favourite shopping spot.

Third, in two of our cases (the widowed mom and the couple) they are moving into their daughter’s home. This situation creates huge questions. Will I be a bother to them?  Will I still have my independence? Will we argue like we did when she was younger?

In all three cases our clients were very open about their fears and concerns during the months we were working with them. If you know someone who is about to do this, here are some tips on how to paint a rosier picture for them … gently and subtly, of course.

Remind them that they have few friends left here, and that their social life is limited. That while living here they rarely get to see sisters, brothers, grandchildren, and other relatives.

Let them know that the family really wants them. That the long distance has made them spend too much time worrying about mom or dad’s health, eating habits, and social life.

With Sandy we emphasized that she would be able to go shopping with her daughter. With Nancy we focussed on Sunday night family dinners at her sister’s that she would be able to attend. With Ethel we kept reminding her that there would be someone else in the home to share her caregiving responsibilities with George.

Above all, remind them that home is where the heart is. And throughout life, our heart keeps coming back to our family.


November 5, 2008

What Not to Move

Moving costs time and money. You can save both by moving only what you need, not everything you have.

Make decisions about what you absolutely need before you move. You’ll save the time and costs of packing, moving, and unpacking these items.

How to decide? With clothing ask yourself these questions:

  • If I haven’t worn it in two years, will I wear it again?
  • Will I ever be this size again?
  • If I bought this three years ago, and it still has the price tag on it, will I ever wear it?

Look through the items you have in storage in your basement, storage unit, or crawl space. Will you really need the remains of the paint you used on your dining room walls? Or, the old curtains from your child’s nursery? How about your tax returns from 1968?

Look in your dining room. Will you really need the second, third, or fourth set of dishes? Will you really need the linens for a table set for 12, when your new home will have only enough room for a table set for six?

How many pieces of art will your new place hold? If you have fewer walls, and smaller rooms, you will not be able to display all your art.

As Seniors Move Organizers we help our clients go through each room in their home, and ask these questions. Usable items can be donated to a charity, or given to a friend or relative who will cherish the item. Others items are recycled as appropriate.


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