As we approach October 1st, National Seniors Day, I can’t help but reflect on how we collectively perceive our seniors.
Most of us have older adults in our lives – aging parents, grandparents, in-laws and these relationships have coloured our perceptions of older adults as a whole. In fact, seniors are not a homogenous subset of society. Personal experiences, personality, education, income level - all shape our unique perceptions and, really, why would our seniors be any different from the rest of us?
For example, and contrary to popular belief, not all seniors really want to hang on to everything that they have ever owned. I am working right now with a lovely woman, seventy- seven years young, who has a home that looks like it could be photographed for Better Homes and Gardens. She shared that she has never been one to like clutter and an appreciation for “all things organized” seems firmly entrenched in her DNA. That has certainly impacted her décor decisions and she is not particularly attached to anything that won’t work well in her new space. She does appreciate recommendations though on what will fit and scale nicely and what she should do to get rid of the items that she will no longer need. We are happy to help.
Another of my clients is determined to have one of her favourite sofas recovered because she finds it so comfortable. She can’t imagine purchasing a new one when she is so fond of the one she has. This woman also once had a passion for folk art and much of that collection is coming with her in spite of what will now be significantly smaller space. Everyone has different preferences, tastes and priorities and I see it as one of my key responsibilities to ensure that my clients’ homes feel like home as soon as they move in. A major move is not easy at any age and it carries particular challenges for someone who has significant downsizing to accomplish. Tough decisions must be made but I like to create possibilities to ensure that people get what they want the most.
I make recommendations based on who my client is and what makes them smile – not on some expectation of what one is supposed to be like in their mid-eighties. It is, after all, the older adult’s move that we are talking about. It is not about what their family members or I might prefer or find meaningful.
To be truly “client focused” one has to put aside assumptions and beliefs to accurately assess what will be most helpful to the individual. Do they want help with only the practical or are they really looking for acceptance, validation and encouragement as they navigate the change process? Every person and situation is different and it is up to the rest of us not to have too many pre-conceived notions about what is best. I can provide knowledgeable recommendations based on insights that I have gleaned from other seniors, other moves and current market conditions but that does not eliminate the need to actively and respectfully listen to the older client who is in front of me. If we are really observant we are bound to see and hear their unique spirit shining through aging eyes. The senior may actually feel like the thirty-five year old that she is in her heart. It is vitally important to see, hear and “be there” for the individual instead of simply managing the move process.
Family members, however loving and well-intended, aren’t always able to bring objectivity to emotional situations. Patterns of communication can become deeply ingrained and it is often the people closest to us who can “push our buttons” during times of increased stress. Honestly, each decision does not have to become a tug of war. An objective Senior Move Manager can’t eliminate all of the anxiety that typically goes with an older person’s move, but we can make it as positive an experience for everyone involved as is humanly possible.
Moving Seniors with a Smile Inc. provides organizing, downsizing and move management services that are focused on you and your individual needs. Complimentary consultations are offered in the Greater Toronto Area.
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