Moving? Reorganizing? Local Companies Can Help Ease the Transition

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Aging Parents, Home & Garden

By Peter Culkin
The prospect of moving is almost always a daunting one, at any stage of life. There are a seemingly endless list of tasks, valuable and sentimental heirlooms to carefully pack away for storage and transport and heavy boxes that must be lugged to cars, trucks and moving vans. Facing this task as an older adult, even with the assistance of well-meaning friends and relatives, can feel like a next to impossible challenge.
But there are Vermont businesses that can help with the prospect of moving out of one’s home or simply reorganizing to fit one’s evolving lifestyle. A Tempo Senior Move is one such business, which helps clients with every aspect of the moving process, from overseeing the physical moving itself to helping clients create a new floor plan for their new living space or changing lifestyle. The company was started in 2012 by Alice Abraham, a former music librarian who spent more than 20 years working for the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston.
“In creating A Tempo Senior Move, I combine my organizational skills with my compassion for seniors to serve the growing need for assistance with planning and moving,” said Abraham. “I understand how to work with the combined physical, cognitive and emotional issues of older adults. I got into this business because I want to be out and about, hands on, helping seniors.”
While Abraham and the other move managers at A Tempo are focused on expediting the physical moving process, they also recognize that the emotional component of moving out of a home can provide additional challenges and are careful to factor in the emotional security of their clients as they help them through what can be a very personal transition. “Safety is always a priority in any situation,” said Abraham. “The logistics of downsizing or moving are overwhelming for people at any age. I focus on the senior — they are the client. I listen carefully to their emotional connections to their things. It’s not about boxes and “stuff,” it’s about respecting and honoring a person’s life and the whole process is a dialogue. As a librarian, I guide them to think of their belongings in terms of categories. It may be cookbooks and art books, or clusters of things that represent different parts of their lives.”
While businesses like A Tempo Senior Move cater to clients throughout New England, there are other resources to assist seniors looking to reduce or simply reorganize their living situation within Chittenden County. Simply Planned VT is another organizational business started by self-proclaimed “natural sorter and organizer” Kerri Oakes. While many of the organizational aspects of the job are similar to the services provided by A Tempo Senior Move, Simply Planned VT focuses on simplifying the living space of senior clients to allow them to more effectively access services and maintain an independent lifestyle in the comfort of their own homes. “Simplicity is why I started my business,” said Oakes. “I believe that we all need a little more of it, including myself. Simplicity is a journey, not a destination. I want to help others with their journey. I define simplicity as having what you need, not the excess.”
The mission of Simply Planned is not one of garbage removal, but a collaborative process between Oakes and her clients that emphasizes communication, understanding and empathy. Furthermore, it is not simply a message of getting rid of excess, but repurposing what is being taken out and often donating these items to contribute towards someone else’s quality of life. Oakes continues to help her clients even after the job is finished, through in-person communication as well as through her Simply Planned blog, which suggests ideas for mini-organizational tasks, as well as DIY tips to help maintain progress.
“What I like to remind my clients is that the feeling or memory is not inside an object, it’s inside you,” Oakes said. “The person purging textbooks from their college years doesn’t mean they’ve lost their degree. Or donating the crystal vase from your fifteenth anniversary doesn’t lessen the number of years of your marriage.”
Whether moving out of a beloved family home, or simply reorganizing and downsizing your possessions, the focus is clear for both A Tempo Senior Move and Simply Planned VT — that understanding and compassion are tantamount to successful transitions and perhaps rethinking collection, storage and what is truly necessary. These are not moving companies that arrive simply to shift cardboard boxes into the back of rental vans.
This is not a science, or an exercise in shifting your valuables as quickly and cheaply as possible. This is a human service, one that could easily be overlooked in our fast-paced world, but one that is vitally important at a time of uncertainty and vulnerability. The moving process, like the process of life, is a journey not simply about where we are going, but how we get there and the love and compassion that we exhibit along the way.

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