Senior Move Management and Downsizing: Evelyn’s Journey from Overwhelm to a New Beginning

One question I am often asked is, “who is your ideal client?” Generally, I answer “well, overwhelmed seniors and their loved ones!” Which is absolutely true. Although, one sentence cannot possibly capture all of the incredible people we have had the opportunity to work with. Another complication is that “overwhelm” is worn differently by all of us. Some of us drape ourselves in overwhelm until we can’t pick ourselves up off the floor. Others fashionably dawn their “overwhelm” raincoat when the rain clouds start to roll in. In launching our Changing Places blog, I would like to share stories of the beautiful folks we have had the honor of working with.

Let me introduce you to Evelyn, a client we worked with a couple of years ago. At the time, Evelyn was 81 years old and had lived in her home for the past 50 years with her husband Frank. When we met her, Frank had just passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Evelyn’s neighbor was worried for her, as she could tell that Evelyn was overwhelmed with both grief and fear of how to navigate life alone. Her neighbor, Stella, was concerned as Evelyn’s bedroom was on the second floor of the home. Stella knew that Evelyn was struggling with her mobility and that Frank was the one who helped her up the stairs to bed every night. Not to mention, Frank did all of the grocery shopping, scheduling doctor’s appointments and was in charge of the couples’ finances.

Upon our first meeting with Evelyn, we learned that her children lived across the country and were too busy to visit often. She was concerned about putting any additional burden on them as they had their own lives. We could see that in normal circumstances, Evelyn was a strong and vibrant woman. During this emotional time, we found Evelyn fragile and overwhelmed. Stella was helping her with small tasks around the house and grocery shopping, but it was evident she needed more support.

Evelyn had begun sleeping on the couch as she could not get up the stairs to her bedroom by herself. While her brain knew it was time to downsize into an assisted living community, her heart was still embedded in her home. Every corner was fraught with memories of the beautiful life that she and Frank had lived together. She feared that if she left her home, she would be leaving Frank behind too. At the same time that our hearts broke for Evelyn, we were optimistic for her next chapter and ready to walk alongside her on her way there. The relief was palpable when she realized she was no longer alone. Thankfully, before Frank passed away, the couple had chosen an assisted living community in the area that allowed them to stay close to friends like Stella. It was a relief that Evelyn did not have to make a decision about where to live during an already emotionally exhausting time.

Our team began by slowly sorting through all of the belongings in the home with Evelyn with the floor plan of her new unit in hand. We began with the bathrooms, as they held the least emotional baggage for Evelyn and worked our way up Frank’s closet. I held Evelyn’s hand as she tearily told me about each of Frank’s beloved, hand-tailored jackets. She chose to donate Frank’s jackets to a charity for Veterans, as Frank had served in Vietnam. It brought her immense joy that we had plenty of treasures to have an estate sale and rehome their belongings to those who could give them a new life.

While her moving day was not easy, as Evelyn felt that this was her final goodbye to her life with Frank, she was in awe of how at home she felt in her new space. Walking into her new apartment, she was greeted by a space full of the couples’ photographs. Complete with her wedding photo hung above her bed. Not only did Evelyn not have to move alone, she got to come home to Frank again. Their memories together followed her into her new space and helped her begin her next chapter with Frank’s memory and love by her side. Evelyn is still living in the assisted living community we helped her move into and has met many new friends and has even picked up a new hobby- painting! She is thrilled that she has a supportive community around her every day and never has to worry about who will take her to her next appointment. Evelyn will forever be a part of the Changing Places family, and we are so honored to have assisted her during this impactful time.


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