Senior Move Services

(913) 302-5214

Senior Move Services takes the dread out of downsizing for seniors in Kansas City by simplifying the moving process and acting as each client's single point of contact.

Filtering by Tag: Kansas City

Having the “Dreaded” Conversation

Before you begin the conversation, arm yourself with knowledge, sensitivity, compassion and empathy.  Compassion requires understanding the negative connotations associated with particular words. Eliminate the words elderly and facility (sounds institutional, like a prison) from your vocabulary. Use older adults and communities instead.

Become familiar with the resources that can help your parents. Examples include:  

  • Aging in place
  • Assessments
  • Elder law attorneys
  • Geriatric care managers
  • Home modifications
  • Levels of care (independent living, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living, skilled nursing)
  • Medicare
  • Memory care
  • Move managers
  • Power of attorney

Start with your county’s area agency on aging ( Johnson County, KS residents should call 913-715-8800. Jackson County, MO residents should call 816-474-4240. Communicate with your siblings. As you frame what you want to say to mom and dad and in what tone of voice, anticipate that a lot of unaddressed feelings will bubble up: the desire to maintain independence, fear of outliving their money and unresolved issues between family members.  This is not a conversation to have over the phone. It’s also better if one child acts as the spokesperson for all of the siblings (there always seems to be one child who takes charge anyway). Expect resistance. You might hear, “No. We’re not moving.” Most parents and children never have this conversation. Have it long before the crisis comes so that when it does, you understand their wishes. 

Tailor your approach to what resonates with your parents. Share your concerns. Never begin a sentence with the word you because mom and dad will immediately become defensive. “My brothers and I want to make sure that your needs are being met now and if a crisis occurs. There are many choices available to you. Let’s talk about some options and see which ones appeal to you.” Give them a list of questions and then set up a time later to discuss their answers with you.

  1. Have you thought about where you’d like to live as you get older?
  2. Would you consider living with one of us (the children)?
  3. Would you want someone to live here to take care of you if you can’t live alone?
  4. Would you want to modify your home for aging in place?
  5. Do you have your will? Trust? Where can I locate it?
  6. Do you have life insurance?
  7. Do you have medical and financial powers of attorney?
  8. Would you like to talk to a financial planner?
  9. What does your long-term care insurance cover?
  10. Do you keep an updated list of your medications?
  11. Do you have supplemental health insurance?
  12. Where do you bank? Safe deposit box?
  13. Is there enough money to cover caregivers or assisted living?
  14. Have you made arrangements for your funeral (cremation, burial)

Many older parents do not want to become a burden to their children. Once they understand that taking control of their future allows them to make choices that enable them to remain in control, they realize they have given a gift to their children and indeed, they have. Remain patient but persistent as you encounter resistance. Remain involved. Have the dreaded conversation long before the crisis comes and chances are, you and your parents will have a much better outcome.

Moving a Hoarder in Kansas City

An overpowering stench of rotten food, body odor and urine permeated the dingy hallway. The closer I walked to Larry’s apartment, the stronger the odor. I saw the eviction notice when Larry opened his door. Long, flowing white hair and grizzly beard, blue jeans and suspenders, he walked with the aid of a cane. He looked like a much older version of the hippies I remembered from the 1960′s. He lived in a hoarder’s paradise, full of books, garbage, clothes strewn throughout the apartment, dirty dishes in the sink and elsewhere, a cat, and enough cockroaches to infest an entire apartment building.

“How can we help you?” I asked.

Larry pulled a dirty handkerchief from his pocket, wiped his watery eyes and tried to silence a hacking cough.

 “I’m sorry. I’ve been ill and the medications sometimes make me cry.”         

Though I felt like running away from the smell, the horrific conditions and him, I knew we could make his life more manageable and cleaner (for the time we worked with him).

“Well, we’re here to help, not judge.”

Larry had a week to move out of his apartment and into his new community in Kansas City, KS. As a hoarder with no family members to keep an eye on him, he had accumulated thousands of things that had little value except to him. And he wanted to take them all. We developed a plan of action and I encouraged him to take only the things he needed, loved or couldn’t replace.

When I returned with my team, we coated the inside of our noses with Vicks (a crime scene trick). Larry had no bed. He slept on a pile of clothes and blankets.  One of my team members volunteered to wash all of his clothes in a laundromat. With mask and gloves on, she triple bagged the clothes. At the laundromat (much less money than the cleaners) she sorted, tossed, washed, dried and folded his clothes. At the apartment, we packed Larry’s beloved books and prepared his bookcases for the move. We cleared his desk. He chose the kitchen items he wanted. We refused to take the badly infested furniture into the new community and he seemed to understand why we had to leave so much behind. We talked with Larry throughout the process, reassuring him that his new home would meet his needs better than his current one.

I hired a moving company experienced with moving hoarders. We visited the new community and designed a floor plan. Luckily, we had recently cleared an apartment in a very nice community and for a small amount of Larry’s money I purchased a bed, headboard, nightstand, dresser, sheets and towels, a microwave, and a few lamps. The community provided him with a sofa and chair and I donated an old coffee table and end table. We moved things from two different locations quickly so his new apartment would be move-in ready by late afternoon on moving day. We unpacked everything and put it away, arranging the books exactly the way he wanted. We hung his pictures and made his bed (it had been years since he slept in a bed). By the end of the day, he realized the scope of the work we did on his behalf and thanked us.

No two clients are alike but the skills required to meet their needs remain the same. How can we help you meet the needs of your clients?

*The client's actual name was not used in this blog post.

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