Moving a Lifetime of Memories (Part 1)

Moving a Lifetime of Memories (Part 1)

MovingEight months ago, I shared the journey of moving my mom 1000 miles to live in a skilled nursing community near me.  Now, here is my journey of walking in a prospective senior resident’s shoes and moving – TODAY!

What’s it like for a senior to move 30, 40 or 50 years worth of memories?  Is it unsettling, heart wrenching, stressful and terrifying for a senior?  My husband and I are moving today after living in a beautiful home for only two years and it feels disruptive, daunting and time consuming.

Who likes moving?  It’s anticipating or dreading that I will have temporarily or permanent lost items for months.  Plus it can take months to settle in, hang pictures on the wall and start to feel like OUR home.

Most people do not like change.  It ‘s easier to just stay where you are and keep the status quo.

Well, since we have to move, I decided to try a new method that we recommend to our clients at a Continuing Care Retirement Community called Freedom Village.  I hired a senior moving company, who will literally take our pictures off the wall, pack all our belongings, move us, unpack everything and put the pictures back up on the walls.  If we recommend this service to clients, why not see what it is really like ourselves?

Maybe it won’t be as daunting and time consuming as when my husband and I used to hire two men and a truck?

It will be a two-day move.  The senior moving company called Helping Hands will take about three hours to pack us up on the first day and the next day they will move all our belongings and unpack us.

Next week, I will share the rest of the story in part two and we will see how easy or painful moving day is and how long it took to settle into our new home.

Please share your successes, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Currently, Masson is setting move-in records as the regional marketing director of two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

© Marketing 2 Seniors| Diane Twohy Masson 2013 All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. You may share this website and or it’s content by any of the following means: 1. Using any of the share icons at the bottom of each page. 2. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate. 3. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to Diane Masson CASP and link For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author Diane Masson.




  1. Diane, my husband and I are moving and it has given me a renewed sensitivity to our residents as they move into our community. I will follow your blog with interest, as we are planning to use are “Angels on Duty” senior move specialists to help us as well. I don’t know if we will use them for unpacking, but maybe….
    We have been in our home for 12 years and I can tell you I was horrified by how much unnecessary junk we pulled out of the basement. No wonder it seems overwhelming to our potential residents. Anything we can do to help them is extremely valuable!

  2. Linked In Long-term Care Industry Professionals Group

    You touch upon what I see as a make or break critical stress point that a senior will encounter during the winter season of their lives Diane.
    Simply talking about moving with my ( 80+ don’t ask don’t tell) mother brings visible panic to her face. “It’s ok mom, nobody is going to pry you out of here until you say you’re ready, just let us know when you are”.
    It makes it difficult to make arrangements to set them up into a suitable health care home with waiting lists the way they are with someone who has been entrenched in the same place for 60 years.
    Looking forward to your Part 2.
    By Guy Parent

  3. Linked In Long-term Care Industry Professionals Group

    I’m interested to see how this move goes for you, Diane.

    I think regardless of age, when it comes to personal items. collectibles and mementos, some of us are “keepers” and some of us are “tossers” in varying degrees. When the time to downsize comes, Baby Boomers who have spent a lifetime accumulating “stuff” are going to have a difficult time culling through it and reducing the quantity down to a manageable/moveable amount. If you have adult children, you will often be surprised at how little of the things you consider important, they are not interested in having/keeping.

    After a 20+ year battle with cancer my Mom passed away in August 2013. She knew the end was coming for a while and spent her last two years giving things away, documenting the heirlooms and pictures and (gasp!) throwing things away. She left us with a manageable amount of documented,treasured things. A real gift to her kids.
    My 91 year old Mother-in-law in Assisted Living died suddenly of a heart attack in Dec. 2013. Even though her place was smaller than my Mom’s house, there was a lot of stuff left for us to deal with. Since she passed suddenly, many of the true mementoes were not identified from the things that could be easily thrown away, sold or given away. (Think valuable heirloom jewelry vs. costume jewelry). So a bigger chore faced us there.
    My wife and I (in our early 60’s) are going through our “stuff” now. it will take us a few years but ultimately we want to end up with less to pass on and have the things that are sentimentally or monetarily valuable documented.
    By Roy Gosselin

    • Roy, thanks for sharing two very different stories of inheriting treasures versus questions. I still have jewelry from my grandmother and wonder about its history. It is very hard to know what to do. I would love to share these stories in my upcoming book with your permission.

  4. Linked IN Boomers: Aging Beats The Alternative

    Yes Diane! Moving is challenging at any age. For a senior with a lifetime of memories it is even more stressful. Many of our seniors have never lived in an apartment or community style living, they have only lived a homes and living in community for the first time can be frightening for many.
    By Kathryn Watson

  5. Linked In Elder Care Professionals

    That’s great that you found a senior move manager. Almost everyone in the country and parts of Canada can find one on the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) website. I look forward to seeing how your move turns out. Best of Luck and hope you enjoy your new home,
    By Theresa Tucciarelli


    Good luck, Diane. This is truly a sensational idea. I look forward to reading your account. The insight you will gain from this experience will be beneficial to us all. James
    By James Burchell

  7. Linked In Alzheimer s Association

    I look forward to reading about your experience of this service! I’ve talked with folks who provide this kind of senior moving service, and it sounds great to have all of the furniture moved and things put in place before you even arrive. I guess it can’t be the same as staying at home, but it’s got to be better than living out of boxes for weeks or months.
    By Rachelle Norman


    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m looking forward for your recommendations to apply them in my project of giving services tot elderly people who don’t want to be living in a facility. What are disruptive moments if they leave their home and move into a flat? I’m looking forward to your second contribution.
    By Sofie Corne

  9. Linked In The Elder Care Network

    A great idea – senior moving services – if you can afford it. Helping elderly relatives move (especially when it is permanent) can be gut-wrenching, especially when it is due to financial reasons.
    By Janine Mastrangelo

  10. Linked In The Elder Care Network

    A great idea – senior moving services – if you can afford it. Helping elderly relatives move (especially when it is permanent) can be gut-wrenching, especially when it is due to financial reasons.
    By Janine Mastrangelo

    • Very true Janine! If someone is moving to Hud Housing or Section 8, it will not be possible to use this service. If someone is selling their home and moving into a retirement community, they can usually afford it.

  11. The last few months have been so stressful for myself and my aging parents. We moved them out of the house that they’d lived in for the last 40 years. They raised children, watched them grow and eventually had grandchildren to visit. There are so many memories and so much STUFF.

    Going through everything was intimating, but it was also nice to spend time with them and relive some of those memories. They’re currently very happy with the assisted living center that we found for them and we managed to move a few of their favorite pieces of furniture over there too.

    My advice to anyone going through this kind of thing is to stay strong and enjoy the time you have.

    • I hear your pain Stephanie. What a blessing you have been to your parents. It can be a real bonding experience to rightsize someone.