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Issue Date: November 2006 Issue


Moving Seniors

Local moving consultants help seniors pare down and move to new residences.


Jeannie Roberts

The message on The Nesting Co.’s answering machine declares, “This could be your best move ever.” And that’s exactly what you need to hear when helping your aging parent move while simultaneously attending to all the usual details in your own life.

So if necessary, Linda Huska and Beth Gaewsky will take over for a while. The moving consultants will measure furniture to help Mom know what will fit in the new place. They’ll help her decide what to keep and what to do with the rest, set up and coordinate moving day and even unpack on the other end. They’ll deal with Mom or Dad’s issues with keeping control, and they’ll do it with genuine kindness and compassion.

Susan Kent, Martha Whitbeck and Barbara Framke do the same at Moving By Design. They take care of all the details, from the moment the decision is made to move Dad out of independent living until the moment he slips into bed the first night in his new place.

“Martha was a lifesaver,” says Melanie Lesar, who used Whitbeck’s services to move her mother into Judson Park in Cleveland Heights. “She handled everything. She really knew what she was doing, and that helped me relax about it.”

Lesar became so confident in Whitbeck that, on moving day, she took her nervous mother to breakfast, leaving Whitbeck to supervise the move. After breakfast, Lesar and her mother drove to Judson, where Whitbeck was already telling movers where to place the furniture, choices agreed upon in a premove consultation using grid sheets and drawn-to-scale models of the rooms.

“My mother was nervous about having someone else unpack and put away her things,” Lesar remembers. “Martha just held up her hands and said, ‘No problem. Let me handle that.’ ”

And she did. Whitbeck calmly explained that all the moving boxes had to be quickly emptied and removed from the premises for safety’s sake. By the end of the day, they were — books were on the shelf, dishes in the cupboard and the bed made.

“I want to do my job, but I also want the client to feel like they have some control over the process, too,” Whitbeck says. “When we’re unpacking someone’s things, we’re aware that this stuff represents their whole lives. It’s a very intimate process, and we respect that.”

Kent’s Moving By Design, based in Cleveland Heights, works largely with residents in the Judson retirement communities, while The Nesting Co., based in Lakewood and Vermilion, moves many clients into The Renaissance of the Eliza Jennings Group. But both companies serve any senior who needs to relocate.

Huska says The Nesting Co.’s goal is to assist a senior in a healthy transition to a new residence. “We take a lot on ourselves to alleviate the client’s stress,” Huska says.

The dynamics can be complex. “We’re sometimes referred to as ‘moving coordinators,’ ” says Kent, “but what that means is that we are social worker, hand-holder, daughter, consultant, mover, unpacker.”

So before moving day, one of them has already met with the client to begin the downsizing. Through careful questioning, Kent determines what is expendable and which photographs, souvenirs and gifts are particularly attached to memory and need to be kept. “This is a real loss for them, because their things mean so much,” she says. “It’s a delicate process.”

That’s the selling point for these companies: personal service with real compassion. “This might be the toughest time in their lives,” Huska says of her clients. “We care deeply for this generation. We hold their hands from beginning to end.”

Moving By Design can be reached at (216) 932-3684 and The Nesting Co. can be reached at (440) 988-1217.


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