Toss It Tuesday – How to Declutter Before Moving – Have You Tossed Out the Right Stuff?

Senior Couple with Moving BoxIn her article How to Declutter Before Moving: Have You Tossed Out the Right Stuff?, author Lisa Gordon advises that if you’re about to move to a new home, there is one thing you absolutely must do: Declutter before moving. Here are some of Lisa’s tips:

Step No. 1: Start throwing things out early. Try to start purging at least a month before you move, says Ross Sapir, CEO of Roadway Moving in New York City, which moves up to 6,000 customers each year. The reason: This gives you time to, say, sell items online or drive them to a consignment shop. Plus, advance decluttering “spreads out the (task) to make it feel like it’s less work than it actually is,” Spair says.

Try to tackle one room, or one closet (or one drawer) a day – it’s less overwhelming – and never handle an item twice. Designate “toss,” “donate,” and “sell” boxes, and when you decide an item’s fate, toss it into the correct box. Done, done, and done.

Step No. 2: Gather the right packing materials. Gather organizational tools like packing tape, black markers, and labels in a tote; that way, you don’t have to rummage through drawers whenever the decluttering bug bites. After all, you’re going to need to get this stuff for moving day anyway, so there’s no harm in kicking things off early. Another huge help? Clear plastic bins are your friends – and great homes for small items like batteries or office supplies. You can see what’s inside, and they’re easily stackable to save space.

Read more tips: How to Declutter Before Moving – Have You Tossed Out the Right Stuff?.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Moving Mom Monday: How to Hire a Moving Company – Part Two

Two Seniors Holding Moving Boxes

In Part One of this series, we discovered three tips for hiring a moving company. Here are two more tips:

4. Review the estimate. This is your opportunity to get clarification and ask questions. Be sure to get any changes in writing. Verify how much the company will be moving, the distance it will be moved, the times your items will be picked up and delivered to your new home and the availability of additional services such as packing and supplies. This will reduce the chances of dealing with unexpected charges.

5. Get a written copy of the mover’s inventory list. Additionally, give the movers specific directions for getting to your home and exchange phone numbers in case you need to reach each other.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday – How to Downsize Your Wardrobe

Pile of Cluttered ClothesIn her article How To Declutter Your Wardrobe: Tips for Simplifying Closets & Clothes, author Laura Norcross is a twenty-something who offers great advice for folks of any age who want to downsize the their clothing closets.

How to Declutter Your Wardrobe – Questions To Ask Yourself:

“What do I wear on a day to day basis?” Jeans? Leggings? Suits? Dresses? Pajamas? If you work in a garden every day, you probably won’t need many dressy clothes. If you work in a corporate office five days a week, you may need more business casual attire than other people, but less clothes for lounging around.

“What is the weather like year-round?” Is there a cold winter? Do you have one great, thick winter coat and one coat that you can wear for spring and fall? Or do you have five winter coats? Do you really need five winter coats? Boots? Or do you live in the desert year-round?

“Do I work out?” You might need a couple workout clothes on hand. Do you play sports? Can you get away with having the same two or three outfits for workouts?

“Do I really need four pairs of gloves?” You probably don’t.  And you probably don’t need four black t-shirts either. This concept can apply to every type of item you own (gym shoes, scarves, coats, jeans, sweatshirts, etc.).

“How often do I have to do laundry?” This is huge. Laundry habits affect how often clothes need to be worn. How often can you wear clothes before they’re considered ‘dirty’?

Read more: Actions for Simplifying your Clothes.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Moving Mom Monday: How to Hire a Moving Company – Part One

Two Seniors Holding Moving Boxes

If you, or an aging loved one, are planning on moving, think about hiring movers to do the work for you. Moving companies reduce the stress of the moving process by transporting your belongings to your new place.  Some local movers specialize in ‘small moves’, great for seniors moving to senior living. Here are three tips for hiring a moving company:

1) Get referrals. If your family, friends or coworkers had a great experiene with a moving company, chances are you will, too. Ask around for names of two or three companies to consider. Be sure to get estimates for each.

2) Research online. Once you have your list of referred companies, research them online to make sure they are legitimate. Visit the American Moving Association’s website (moving.org) to see if the company is a member. Membership is voluntary and requires that members abide by the organization’s guidelines. Check review sites and social media to see what their customers say about them and if the companies have a history of customer complaints. Also, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website (fmcsa.dot.gov) and type in each company’s USDOT number to see if they are licensed and insured.

3) Get estimates in person. Many professionals may offer an estimate based on the number of rooms in a home; however, insist on an in-home estimate. Be sure to show them everything you want moved, including furniture, boxes and items that have not been packed yet so they can estimate the weight accurately.

If you’re moving to another state, ask for a written binding estimate or a binding not-to-exceed estimate, which will put a limit on what you will be expected to pay. If you’re moving within your state, the rules about estimates will vary by state. Visit your state’s website to learn more.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday – How to Downsize a Lifetime of Your Parents’ Stuff

Cluttered RoomHelping your parents downsize their home could be one of the hardest things you ever do, both emotionally and practically speaking. There are decades of belongings to contend with, not to mention the inherent tension of an adult child/elderly parent relationship.

Not to worry, though. Help is here, thanks to grandparents.com. These ideas can help you simplify downsizing, while remaining sensitive to all involved parties. Most importantly, everyone needs to recognize it’s a process. “You can’t downsize a 40-year-old household in 48 hours,” says Mary Kay Buysse, the Executive Director for the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). “You have to give it the dignity it deserves.”

Idea – Encourage parents to downsize before they need to. Your parents shouldn’t wait too long to edit their possessions; the earlier they begin, the more they can participate and even find joy in the process. “The best time to do it is while they’re healthy,” says Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com. “You’d much rather [downsize] when they’re of sound mind and body. You can say, ‘If you do this now, you’re going to be able to do this the way you want to do it.'”

“You don’t want to do it after they’ve developed dementia or a stroke,” Buysse concurs. “You don’t want to do it for them; you want to do it with them.”

Idea – Start in a low-stakes room. Determined to DIY? While it may be tempting to tackle the most sentimental items first, it’s better to take the opposite approach. “One of the best things to do is go through a room that doesn’t have any real personal attachment—the medicine cabinet, the linen closet, the kitchen,” says Buysse. Cleaning out moisturizers or old towels is easy, comparatively speaking, and rewards parents with instant gratification, plus motivation to move forward themselves. “What happens is, they love the way the kitchen or medicine cabinets look, and they get inspired. They don’t need coaxing.”

Whatever you do, save pictures and albums for later. “I think our gut instinct is to begin with photos, and that’s the last thing that should be touched,” says Buysse. “It’s also the easiest thing that can be handed off to a third party to digitize.”

Idea – Ditch multiples and seldom-used items. Though it seems like every little possession could spark a toss/keep debate, there’s one category of stuff you can chuck immediately: “Multiples, for sure.” Duplicate tools, clothes, and cooking equipment can go with nary a second thought. “Most 80 year old women haven’t made mashed potatoes in 10 years, and they have three mashers,” says Buysse.

For seldom-used items you’re less sure about, try this test: “Whether it’s an article of clothing or kitchen utensil, if you haven’t picked it up in a year, chances are you can live without it.” From cookie sheets to bedsheets, if the downsizing person finds herself in need of an item down the line, it can probably be purchased new relatively quickly. “Very few things can’t be replaced easily,” says Buysse, “but everything else you can pretty much get an Amazon drone to bring later in the day.”

Read more downsizing ideas.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Moving Mom Monday: Moving My Kicking-And-Screaming Elderly Parents 1,600 Miles To Be With Me

Elderly Couple Walking Along Beach

Arlene Nisson Lassin writes about her experience of moving her elderly parents 1600 miles to Houston, Texas…a trip her Mom and Dad did not want to make.  But first, a brief history:

“I moved 1,600 miles away from my parents to Houston as a young adult. As their generation aged, and our other relatives scattered, I became increasingly worried about them being there still, somewhat isolated, without a close family member looking after them. They lived in their aging home all by themselves and tried mightily to keep it up.

Fortunately, my dad was a robustly healthy, mentally sharp man into his mid-eighties and he still drove a car, managed his household, cared for his wife. Being a social guy and wanting something to do with his time, for many years he worked as a greeter and mascot for a local grocery store part time up until the past couple of months. It gave him a place to go, something to do, and pocket change.

When you live far away from your elderly parents, you are always walking on eggshells, dreading a phone call of illness or injury. I got that call this winter – having just turned 87 years old, my dad had taken a tumble down the stairs of his house. The strong ox that he used to be dissipated with this accident, and he felt frail, vulnerable, and shaky enough where he didn’t want to drive any more.”

Read more about the process Arlene experienced moving her elderly parents to Houston.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday – Helpful Tips for Downsizing

Senior couple moving boxesJim Miller, author of The Savvy Senior, received the following question from a reader:

Question: Can you offer any helpful tips for downsizing? My husband and I are interested in moving to a condo downtown when we retire, but we need to get rid of a lot of our personal possessions before we can move. We’ve lived in the same house for almost 35 years and have accumulated tons of stuff.

In response, Jim shares ideas on how to get rid of possessions…include giving to relatives, hiring a senior move manger, selling or donating…in his his USA Today article, “How to downsize your belongings for a move.

Sell it: Selling your stuff is one way you can downsize and pad your pocketbook at the same time. Some other popular selling options are consignment shops, garage sales and estate sales.

Donate it: If you itemize on your tax returns, donating your belongings is another way to downsize and get a tax deduction. Goodwill (goodwill.org, 800-741-0186) and the Salvation Army (satruck.org, 800-728-7825) are two charitable organizations that will come to your house and pick up a variety of household items, furnishings and clothing.

Trash it: If you have a lot of junk you want to get rid of, contact your municipal trash service to see if they provide bulk curbside pickup services. Or, depending on where you live, you could hire a company like 1-800-Got-Junk (1800gotjunk.com, 800-468-5865) or Junk-King (junk-king.com, 888-888-5865) to come in and haul it off for a moderate fee. Another good disposal option is Bagster (thebagster.com, 877-789-2247) by Waste Management. This is a dumpster bag that you purchase for around $30, fill it to a limit of 3,300 pounds and schedule a pickup, which costs an average of $140 but varies by area.

Read the rest of Jim’s article How to downsize your belongings for a move.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Moving Mom Monday: What Important Documentation Do You Need?

Senior couple packing a miving box

Whether buying, selling, or leasing, every locale has its standard real estate sales and purchase contracts, disclosures, and professional documentation. Beyond the basics, however, it is recommended that families take time to create contingency plans and compile important documents when assisting older adults, particularly if they are frail, undergoing medical treatments, or experiencing elevated stress during the transition process.

1. General Power of Attorney (POA): Transfers the legal authority to act on one’s behalf to another party.

2. Durable Power of Attorney: Transfers the legal authority to act on one’s behalf for any legal task.

3. Special, Specific, or Limited Power of Attorney: Grants a designated agent the authority to conduct a specific, designated function. *

4. Death Certificate and/or a Will: Likely to be requested by the closing agent, regardless of the title held, if any of the property owners are deceased.

5. Trust documents: These vary widely in terms of the powers granted to trustees. You will need to provide pertinent trust documentation to one’s real estate professional or title representative/closing agent when requested.

6. Abstract: A complete record of all matters of public record that affect ownership rights to a particular piece of real property.

7. Home repair history: Accuracy is important when completing property condition disclosures legally required when selling most residential property. By simply compiling receipts for recent major improvements or repairs in advance, the completion of otherwise lengthy forms can be expedited, relieving any unnecessary stress and frustration for already overwhelmed senior homeowners or family members.

* NOTE: Having a general or durable power of attorney may be sufficient for signing listing documents or negotiating sales contracts. However, some title insurance companies and closing agents require specific powers of attorney when deed transfers are involved. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable real estate professional with access to legal counsel or a trusted real estate attorney regarding the laws governing real estate conveyances in your area.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday: Senior-Friendly Guide to Downsizing

Boomer Senior Couple Moving Boxes

Most seniors know that there will come a day when they’ll have to downsize, either to simplify their lifestyle, to cut costs, to be closer to grandchildren, or to address medical needs.

It’s often a stressful and tolling process – both emotionally and physically. But it doesn’t have to get overwhelming. Here are some tips from GoodCall to make your downsize easier.

1. Start early. Give yourself plenty of time for this process, because it will inevitably take longer than you expect. Take your time, and don’t try to sort through your entire house in one day or weekend. A couple of weeks to a month is a more realistic timeline. Take it one room at a time, and take breaks throughout.

“Go through each item one by one,” says Alison Kero, CEO of ACK Organizing in Brooklyn. “It’s important to give everything you own your attention for at least a second or two. It will also help you develop a great decision making system because you’re learning how to focus and then choose, if even for a second or two.”

If you aren’t rushed, you’ll find downsizing to be much less stressful.

2. Start small. You probably already have a couple of things in mind to toss out in the kitchen or garage, but avoid diving into such a big room at the very beginning. You have years and years of things to sort through. Start in an area with little emotional attachment. The laundry room or linen closet are good options. Understand your needs. If you’re moving into a two-bedroom house, four sets of sheets should be plenty. The rest can go.

“Garages/attics/basements are notorious for being the hardest rooms to tackle,” says Debra Blue, co-founder and CEO of Blue Moon Estate Sales. “These rooms tend to accumulate all the old hobbies, boxes, old holiday decorations, and clutter. They’re also known to be rather uncomfortable spaces. In the summer it’s too hot, winter it’s too cold, and in the springtime it can be too humid.”

3. Eliminate rooms you won’t have in your new home. If you’re moving to an apartment or townhome, you might not have a garage or office space. Nearly everything in those spaces will need to be sold, donated, tossed, or relocated to other rooms. These areas might also be good items for consignment or Craigslist sales; nice office furniture and outdoor tools are more valuable than old sofas or mattresses.

“Organize backwards,” suggests Jamie Novak, author of ‘Keep This Toss That.’ “A common suggestion is to pick out the stuff you don’t want and pack the rest. Try the opposite – pack the keepers. What’s left can be looked at and most can be shared or donated.”

4. Get rid of duplicates. You’ll find this is especially true in your kitchen. You have two or three spatulas and ladles; a couple of oversized stock pots; four different sized cookie sheets; a blender, a food processor, a coffee grinder, and a nut chopper. Now’s the time to reduce the clutter. If you’re feeling wary of handing off that second roasting pan because you use it every Christmas (but at no other time during the year), consider giving it to a child or grandchild who can bring it over for the holiday and take it home when they leave.

5. Only make Yes or No piles – no Maybes. When you’re going through years of belongings, some things are going to tug at your heartstrings, and you’ll be tempted to make a third pile of things to keep if you have space. Don’t fall for it. You’ll end up with a Maybe pile that’s bigger than either of the other two, and you haven’t really made any progress in sorting, just moved it across the room. Take a hard look at every item you pick up. If you use it regularly or expect to in your new home, keep it. If it’s been sitting in a closet or on a shelf for a year or more, it’s time to let it go.

“If you already weren’t using it, or didn’t like it, why on earth would you want to pack it up and schlep it to your next house?” says Hazel Thornton, of New Mexico-based Organized for Life. “I know it sounds silly, but people do it all the time. Moving isn’t cheap, either; do you really want to pay extra to move stuff you don’t even want? Don’t delude yourself by telling yourself you’ll deal with it at your next destination. No, you won’t.”

6. Reduce collections creatively. It can be hard to let go of a lifetime collection of porcelain dolls or snow globes from all your vacations, but they will eat up a lot of space or else end up stored in a box where you’ll never see them. Instead, pick a couple to keep and take high-resolution photos of the rest, then have them made into a photo book that can sit on your coffee table or mantle. You and guests will be able to enjoy them without the clutter. There are also tech tools or websites such as Fotobridge.com that will convert those boxes of photo negatives to digital.

Blue, of Blue Moon Estate Sales, says when you’re trying to reduce a collection, ask yourself, “Which one is your favorite?”

“This is a great way to thin out big collections and focus on the one that really brings joy. When it comes to the rest of your collections or newer ephemera, take pictures with your smartphone! You’ll enjoy it more when it comes up in your digital photos than it being stashed in a drawer or box. The memories will continue to live on through photos and conversations with loved ones.”

7. Don’t be afraid to sell things yourself. With Craigslist, Ebay, numerous smartphone apps, yard sales, and an abundance of consignment shops, selling your belongings has never been easier. You probably won’t make a ton of money on most items, so consider how much time you want to invest. Yard sales are usually faster, but items won’t sell for as much. Craigslist has its drawbacks, but you’ll have a much wider audience and can probably get more for your stuff. Consignment is a good option for high-end furniture, handbags and other accessories; prices are reasonable, and they’ll sometimes pick up heavy furniture for you. If you aren’t handy with a computer, your grandchildren can probably help. But if that all sounds like more than you care to deal with, hiring a firm to run an estate sale might be your best bet.

8. Consider legacy gifts early. Is there an antique clock in your foyer that you plan to one day leave to your son? Maybe a china collection your granddaughter adores? If there are certain heirlooms or pieces you plan to leave to your family in your will, consider instead giving those gifts now. This has two benefits: you’ll get the items out of our way, and you’ll be able to enjoy the feeling of giving those items to your loved ones now. While you’re at it, find out if there are any items your children want that you don’t know about – you might find an easy way to make them happy and lighten your load.

9. Allow some time to reminisce. While you’re cleaning and sorting, there will be some days when you want to stop emptying the kids’ bedrooms and just look through the kindergarten drawings, soccer trophies, and once-prized stuffed animals. It’s OK to pause and let the nostalgia take over for a bit. Cry if you need to, or move on to another room and come back. This is why you started early – just don’t let it prevent you from eventually getting the job done.

“I always ask my clients how the item at hand makes them feel,” says Morgan Ovens, of Haven Home in Los Angeles. “If it brings up any negative feelings, let it go. If it brings happiness of course it stays! The idea here is to only be surrounded by things you absolutely love. Isn’t that a great goal?”

10. Use this as a chance to bond. Invite the kids and grandkids over for the weekend. Talk to the young ones about where you bought your favorite trinkets. Tell them about your family’s heirlooms. Let them help pack, ask questions, and spend time with you. Get help posting items for sale online. It can be one more moment your family shares together in the house you’ve loved – before you start making those memories together in your next home. Remember that it’s your family that’s important for the memories you cherish, not the stuff around you.

Read the rest here.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Moving Mom Monday: 6 Tips for Touring Skilled Nursing Communities

Registered nurse comforts elderly woman patient

Skilled nursing communities (also referred to as “long-term care communities”) attract residents who are no longer able to live independently and need consistent medical assistance.

If you have a parent who needs this type of care, here are some suggestions that can help you appraise a skilled nursing community:

1. Visit the community on different days and at various times, including mealtimes. Take note of staff morale, resident activities and nursing staff levels.

2. Talk to members of the nursing staff about how long they have worked there.

3. Ask the nursing community administrators about staff-to-resident levels.

4. Obtain a copy of the most recent state survey to learn whether the community has been cited for deficiencies.

5. Ask if they have a plan of care for each resident, and if it is revised continually. Ask to see a sample copy of such plans.

6. Contact the local ombudsman organization and ask about the specific long-term care communities in the area.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582