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


The four-bedroom house that Ray and Beth Nygren had lived in for 20 years in Auburn, Wash., measured about 2,400 square feet. The two-bedroom apartment that awaited them in a nearby independent- and assisted-living complex was less than half that size.

They were moving — “maybe a little reluctantly,” said their daughter, Bonnie Rae Nygren — because each had undergone heart-valve replacement surgery last year, and Beth Nygren had suffered complications. The single step from living room to dining room, or down to the family room, had become difficult for her to manage using a walker.

She’d already taken a fall. “They considered it a very minor thing, but it was really eye-opening for us,” said Bonnie Rae. “One more fall could make a huge difference in their lives.”

The couple’s three children suggested that with Beth, 85, coping with multiple sclerosis and Ray, 87, contending with heart failure, “maybe it was time to downsize and move to a retirement community,” Bonnie Rae said.

Earlier this year, the family began sorting through 65 years of possessions. “Digging in, we realized how much stuff they had,” Ms. Nygren recalled. “How many towels do you need? What dishes do you want to take? What pictures do you want on the walls? And, what about the things you can’t take?” The process felt overwhelming.

The family had never heard of senior move managers until the retirement facility recommended a few, including RR Move Co.

The elder Nygrens almost balked when owner Rebecca Ricards walked through their house, talked with them about their concerns, took lots of photos — and quoted a price of $5,400 for planning the move, packing their belongings and setting up the new residence, not including the moving van and movers.

But reassured by her experience and confidence, they hired her, with their son contributing a chunk of the costs.

Though senior move managers often work with adult children to help move their parents, the industry is seeing an uptick in younger seniors hiring managers for themselves, Ms. Buysee added.

A New York native, Alissa Ballot had already downsized from a house in Florida to a Chicago apartment when, in 2021, she decided “it was time to move home.” But selling her place in Chicago while finding an apartment in New York during the pandemic became “nervous breakdown time,” said Ms. Ballot, 67, a retired lawyer. “There were all these balls up in the air — a few balls too many.”

A nonjudgmental professional can often calm tensions. “It’s not you telling your mom, ‘Don’t take the torn recliner,’” Ms. Bjorkman said. “It’s someone else saying, ‘Maybe another chair would work better.’”

The Nygrens made no such unusual requests. Their children handled the weeks of sorting and paring, and Ray Nygren — a retired engineer — drew detailed schematics of the new apartment, showing where items should go.

RR Move Co. did the rest, packing one day in March and moving them into their new apartment the next. At about 6 p.m., Ms. Ricards and her crew phoned the family to say they were ready for what she calls “the big reveal.”

“We walked in, and it was like walking into your home,” Beth Nygren said, getting weepy on the phone. There were no boxes in sight. The move managers had made the beds, set the clocks, made sure Ray’s computer was operational.

“Everything was in place: clothes in the closet, pictures on the wall, stuff in the drawers,” Ms. Nygren said. “You could just start living.”



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