Senior Move Managers: Role, Cost, & Why You Need Them


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Senior move managers, or senior relocation specialists, help elderly adults transition to smaller homes and senior living communities by helping them downsize and organize. They can arrange professional packing, help you choose a realtor, provide emotional support to seniors and help them arrange their belongings after the big move. Families and seniors who hire senior move managers can save time, prevent conflict and reduce the burden that comes with moving— whether it’s to a new home or an assisted living facility.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Senior movers prepare elderly adults for senior living. They help seniors prepare for their new environment and lifestyle.
  2. Move managers save time and money. They work with the senior and their family to reduce the need for travel, as well as reduce moving costs and downsizing expenses.
  3. Senior movers provide emotional support. They find ways to involve seniors in moving decisions and chat with them about any concerns.
  4. Meet with potential movers before hiring them. Set up interviews with those who work within your budget, and make sure they’re accredited by senior mover agencies.

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Top 7 Reasons to Hire a Senior Move Manager

Sometimes, senior move managers will pack and ship hundreds of items for a family. Other times, they’ll set up transportation and accompany loved ones across the country. No matter how involved your family’s move manager is, the process of downsizing and moving often creates a personal relationship. It’s not unusual for move managers to be in touch with clients long after they’ve settled in.

“I’ve talked to so many move managers who continue to reach out to clients to make sure if they’re OK or need anything,” says Jennifer Pickett of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). In this article, Pickett and Mary Kay Buysse, co-executive directors of NASMM, share their insights into the credibility of senior move managers and the benefits of hiring one.

Here are seven reasons why hiring a senior move manager can be smart decision for your family.

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1. They’re experienced and vetted

Many senior move managers, also known as senior relocation specialists, have found move management as a postretirement career. Some have backgrounds in nursing, social work, and psychology, while others might work in marketing, project management, or even information technology. Often, the combination of their professional background, life experience, and desire to connect with seniors prepares them for this unique role.

NASMM requires its members to have general liability insurance, and they must take classes in ethics and safety. NASMM also has a code of ethics and standard of practice for all members. For example, once hired, each senior move manager must provide a signed contract to protect the manager, the family, and their senior loved one.

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2. They save time

Considering everything involved in an elderly parent’s move, senior move managers can save considerable time and resources. This is especially true for geographically distant families.

Instead of adult children making multiple trips to assist their senior loved one with organizing, moving, open houses, and estate sales, the mover can manage these tasks. Some families will hire a move manager months before to begin decluttering or downsizing the senior’s home room by room over time, while others will go all-in for a weekend.

Senior movers also rely on convenient technology to support families while conserving time and resources, Pickett explains.

“If you’re in a long-distance situation, a lot of the downsizing and selling can be done virtually. Move managers have that technology at their fingertips, from inventory to virtual organizing tools.”

For example, managers can set up family virtual chats as opposed to trying to schedule in-person meetings that work for everyone. They can also use tools like online marketplaces to make sales, leaving the senior’s family members free to help with other tasks.


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3. They help seniors downsize with dignity

“The art of senior move management is helping older adults part with their possessions without parting with their memories,” says Pickett.

When a person lives in one home for their entire adult life, they fill it with reminders of the people and places they love. It can be hard for younger generations to understand the emotional difficulties of downsizing a senior’s home. For instance, millennials and members of Generation X have moved more often in adulthood than baby boomers have. This disconnect can leave adult children frustrated at their aging parent’s reluctance to let things go.

Senior move managers encounter this situation often, and they can empathize with elderly adults struggling to downsize. They’re able to provide creative solutions that family members may not have considered.

Buysse shared the story of a move manager who worked with a woman in her 80s, a passionate traveler who had visited countries across the globe. Throughout their travels, the woman and her husband acquired 85 unique teapots.

“She was absolutely despondent over the fact that this move to a 500-square-foot apartment could mean, for the first time in 50 years, that those teapots would not be with her,” says Buysse.

The senior move manager suggested the woman select her three favorite teapots to display in the dinette cabinet in her new assisted living apartment. The manager then took photos of the other 82 teapots, combined all those photos into a professionally printed and framed poster, and presented it to the woman as a gift. This considerate gesture is one example of how senior move managers can find creative solutions to help seniors cope with the difficulties of downsizing.


Image Credit: Bequest of Mrs. Jean M. Riddell, 2010/ The Walters Art Museum.

4. They can save your family money

There are many ways a senior move manager can help your family save money. For instance, hiring a senior move manager who can coordinate with families virtually reduces the need for costly travel from the senior’s long-distance loved ones. It can also reduce the need for expensive moving trucks, especially when the manager effectively downsizes a senior’s belongings.

The senior relocation specialist may start the downsizing process by taking photos of the entire house and sharing them with family members to determine what should be kept or which relative wants what. Once that’s decided, the planner will work to find the best homes for the senior’s remaining items.

Senior moving services also have the resources to recoup your loved one’s expenses through discounted rates from professional partners, like cleaning services and appraisers. A senior mover will also have a streamlined process for selling or donating the aging adult’s possessions.

“There are a lot of options, and the dumpster is the last resort,” says Buysse.

Here are some examples of what a senior mover might do for the leftover items from downsizing:

  • They’ll organize donations to charities like Habitat for Humanity or Move for Hunger, while ensuring that all donations are documented for the senior’s tax-deduction purposes.
  • Senior move managers may also have resources to sell valuable treasures like antique books, historic memorabilia, or unique collections, says Pickett.
  • If your family decides to have an estate sale, the move manager might connect you with an estate sale expert. Sometimes the move manager is experienced enough in resale values to conduct the sale themselves.

With additional connections to various professionals like movers, real estate agents, cleaners, appraisers, and staging experts, most move managers cover every aspect of the moving process. Some senior living communities even partner with local senior move managers. So if you’re considering hiring one, ask prospective communities if they have any incentives to help lower moving costs. Most senior relocation specialists can help families save money through specialized senior discounts.



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5. They enable seniors to feel in charge of difficult transitions

It’s important to involve the senior in the moving process so that they don’t see the transition as something happening to them. This could mean something like organizing clothing and books or sorting through a box of old Christmas ornaments. It really all depends on your loved one’s physical and cognitive condition. The more your aging relative is able to make their own decisions, the more they’ll be likely to accept the move, explains Pickett.

On top of the stress of relocating, a change in health or the loss of a spouse is often what prompts a move to a senior living community.

“There’s so much loss associated with aging,” Pickett says. “Unfortunately, most of the time when seniors decide to move, something has happened, and they’re not necessarily in the position where they’re in total control.”

An impartial third party can help bring order to the moving process, reducing stress for both a senior and their adult children. This makes another case for hiring a senior moving specialist.

“That way the family can focus on the physical and emotional needs of their loved one,” Pickett adds.

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6. They emotionally prepare older adults for senior living

The transition to senior living is more common than you might think. In the last year, more than 4.8 million families were referred to senior living communities by A Place for Mom. And this need is only expected to grow in the future. In fact, by 2060, the population of seniors age 65 and older is predicted to increase from about 17% to 25% of the total U.S. population.

One of the biggest hesitations seniors have about transitioning to assisted living is a desire to age at home with home care, surrounded by familiar memories and possessions. If an older adult is struggling with the decision to move into independent or assisted living, communities may recommend reaching out to a move manager to ease the process.

“One of the best skills a senior move manager brings to the table is their ability to listen. There’s the physical side of moving, but there’s also the emotional side of leaving what they’ve known and starting a new normal,” says Pickett.

During a consultation with a senior and their family, a senior mover can listen to concerns and offer solutions based on their experience with others in similar situations. They can help reduce the fear of downsizing and make a seemingly overwhelming process less daunting. Once the decision to move to assisted living has been made, move managers help set an older adult up for a successful transition.

“It’s so important to make a senior move seamless and stress-free,” says Pickett. “If a move goes poorly, the stress that’s associated can really send an adult into a downward spiral.”

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7. They can prevent family conflict

The stress of moving, coupled with conflicting personalities, can lead to family disputes with families and their aging loved one. Often, one sibling will try to speed up the sorting and packing process.

“They may say something like, ‘Mom, you don’t really need this thing.’ But it isn’t their decision — it’s her decision,” says Pickett.

A senior move manager can de-escalate the situation and put the argument into perspective. They can also calmly provide an objective perspective and guide families through the process of deciding which things to keep, sell, and donate.

“There are a lot of memories and emotions wrapped up for the adult children as well,” Pickett notes. “Senior move managers are valuable because they help take that emotion out.”

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How to find and choose a senior move manager

If you’re ready to start the process of finding a senior move manager, start with NASMM’s online locator to search for senior move managers in your area. Wherever you search, it’s important to make sure that anyone you consider is an accredited senior move manager, which means they’re authorized to perform this job.

Once you narrow down your search, interview several move managers to find who will work the best with you. Ideally, you want to work with someone that both you and your senior loved one are comfortable with. Consider involving your elderly relative in the interview, and come prepared with a list of questions to gauge how well you’ll work together.

As you move further into the decision process, you should also compare each senior move manager’s rates. If they’ve spoken with you in detail about where their assistance is needed, they should be able to give you an estimated hourly or total cost. By narrowing down the options that work within your budget and interviewing different move managers, you should be able to find the right fit.


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How much do senior move managers charge?

The national average cost of a senior move manager is between $40 and $80 an hour, depending on the location and type of move. Based on our research, the total cost can end up between $1,500 and $5,000, again depending on where you live and the details of the move. For example, seniors who want support with every single part of the moving process will end up paying more than seniors who only want help with downsizing or organizing.

Often, managers will also offer package options based on client needs. Remember that each situation is unique, so NASMM requires all of their partners to provide comprehensive estimates to each prospective client before a move.

If you think a senior move manager could help your family, search for accredited options near you at NASMM’s online locator, or contact one of A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors for local information about moving your loved one into senior living.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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