Moving Is a Monumental Task for Many Older Americans. These Organizers Can Help.

Dawson Relocation Services in Chicago charged her less than $1,000 (at $65 an hour) to coordinate the move. “I was able to set a date to get on a plane with a few suitcases and leave everything else to them,” Ms. Ballot said. “It was a miracle.”

She unpacked on her own, but she didn’t have to return to clean out and close up her Chicago apartment. Marnie Dawson even helped her file claims when the movers dinged a couple of Ms. Ballot’s possessions.

(Besides senior move managers, older movers may encounter real estate agents, attorneys, senior living staff and others who are “certified relocation and transition specialists.” About 1,000 individuals have passed this credentialing exam, said Donna Surges Tatum, chair of the Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist Certification Board. The National Association of Realtors also designates “senior real estate specialists.”)

Relocating older adults involves particular challenges. Unlike younger movers, they’re generally shifting into smaller, not larger, spaces — after decades more time to accumulate stuff. And their families, for better or worse, are often involved.

A move manager has to be a social worker in part. “We’re sometimes dealing with people with cognitive issues. Family dynamics come into play,” said Diane Bjorkman, whose company serving the Twin Cities, Gentle Transitions, is the country’s oldest and probably largest senior move management company.

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