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Posted by JK Moving Services on 10/13/2023

Real-Life Stories About Moving & Downsizing and Senior Living Decisions

Listen to a recording of a live and in-person discussion that was held at the impressive JK Moving headquarters in front of their innovative training house in a warehouse. Our panel of four sharing their real-life stories of moving and downsizing experiences, for themselves to active adult communities and helping their loved ones navigate the system of hospitals, aging life care, independent living, assisted living, memory care and much more! 

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Transcript of the Discussion (excuse typos! AI generated)

Real-Life Stories About Moving & Downsizing and Senior Living Decisions by ProAging Podcast.docx

Steve Gurney (00:05):

Welcome to the Aging Podcast. I'm Steve Gurney, founder of the Positive Aging Community. We're excited that you can join us for our interactive discussions with pioneers and thought leaders on a wide variety of topics related to aging on longevity. We're able to bring these discussions to you along with copies of the Positive Aging Source book. Thanks to the support of our positive Aging Community champions, visit pro aging.com to connect with them and find hundreds of other resources. Well, today I have a great discussion to share with you. This is a recording of a live and in-person event we did at JK Moving's headquarters right next to their innovative training house in a warehouse. We had an awesome audience of people there who were thinking about downsizing and dozens of influential senior serving professionals. We were welcomed by Chuck Kuhn, the founder of JK Moving as well. But what you're about to listen to is a segment, the interactive discussion with four individuals sharing their personal stories about moves for themselves or their loved ones, downsizing and moving to senior living options and the emotional challenges and successes surrounding that. We also have some audience interaction as well. So I hope you enjoy this and I hope we can continue to pull together programs like this in the future, listening, reflecting, and learning from each other. So let's jump into the conversation at JK Moving headquarters.


As you can tell, most things that I do are not scripted at all, but Lisa teed up this program today perfectly because one of my goals, and those of you attend our weekly discussions. You see that whenever possible, I try to get real people on the stage. I mean, let me tell you, there are so many experts in this room on how to move and what to do, but when you really get right down to it, the reason you're buying Lisa's book is because you're hearing stories of 17 years of moves. And today I am blown away that these four people are joining us because they've all been through different moves, whether for themselves in downsizing or helping their loved ones with downsizing and moving. And so our goal is we're going to first get to know each of them a little bit better, find out about their situation, and then we really want to make this interactive so the experienced professionals in the audience, you can use these as talking points to say, oh, man, what about doing this?


And then for those, I am also delighted that we have people in the audience today that are actually making moves. They're here because they're dreading these types of decisions. So I think we've got a really cool day planned. We'll do this panel and then we're going to leave a budget a little bit of time for some of the JK experts to give us some moving hacks, and then we can do more networking. You can tour the training house and we'll give away more books, and it's going to be a lot of fun. Does that sound good, guys? Okay. And we're on time here. Okay, so here we go. What we're going to do first is we're going to get to know our panel members here, and I'm going to start with Jeannie, if that's okay. And let's first just do a round of who you are, and then we'll do a round of your moves.

Jeannie (03:40):

I am Jeannie Raditz. I've been retired for 15 years from the healthcare industry. My last three jobs were Sunrise Capital Hospice and Corbit Technology Solutions. They were my favorites. And my husband and I in 2005 and six, built a 3000 square foot, designed and built a 3000 square foot home on three acres. And we loved it. We put much labor and sweat and love into that, and it was very senior friendly. And fast forward 10 years, my girlfriend from high school, a cheerleader friend of mine, we were cheerleaders, and she had moved to a condo in Lansdown Woods, and she introduced me to the condo and I loved it. And I went home and spoke with my husband and he said, let's do this. And two years later we did. Okay,

Steve Gurney (04:50):

All this stuff. So our next panel member is Jill. And Jill, tell us your story.

Jill (05:00):

Well, I retired at the end of

Jeannie (05:02):


Jill (05:04):

And I promptly became a shut-in because of Covid. I was telling everyone I had the world's most boring retirement, but all that time alone, pretty isolated. I'm single, don't have kids, made me realize that I needed connection. And so I made the decision during that time that I wanted to move, and I explored a lot of different opportunities or possibilities, I guess. And I decided I wanted to move to a 55 plus active adult community. And so I did that in June, and I feel like it's the best decision I've made. I'm very happy there, lots of like-minded people and lots to do if I want or if I don't. And I had had the experience of moving my dad and getting rid of all of his possessions and selling his apartment. And so that informed me a lot about what I was going to be facing.

Steve Gurney (06:10):

Awesome. Okay. Thank you, Jill. And then I'm going to pass the mic over here to Karen. Janet. Gosh, I got so many names going through my head. I've been called worse. Okay, good, good. And who's going to tell us a little bit who you are and about your situation? And so you'll see we didn't assign seating, but you'll see the theme. This is planning primarily for yourself, and now we're going to move to helping our loved ones make a move.

Janet (06:41):

So I grew up in the area in Washington, DC and my parents moved to Pennsylvania in 1974. So they built a community, and that was their home. My dad passed, my mother stayed in their home, and at age 90, she was still living completely independently. And at age 90, she had a health episode where I literally was called at 8:00 PM and said, get up here. We're taking her to the hospital. So even though she's 90, in my mind, I'm totally stunned and shocked. It's like, how could this happen? So I am up in Pennsylvania, and while I visited many, many, many times, I'm not familiar with the area, she was there for five days and a social worker walked down the hall on a snowy day and gave me a list of five rehab facilities and said, we're moving her tomorrow. Which one should we send her to?


And I looked, my first thought, my very first thought was, well, my first thought was, where's my brother? But after that thought it was, this will never happen to me again. And so I was able to select one. She was there for three months, and then we moved her here to be near me just because she needed some care. We moved her to assisted living because that's what we were advised to do. She was there from age 90 to 91. She didn't need assisted care. And so we moved her to Independent Living, which is where she has been since, I guess, for the last five years. And because of the care that we've been able to get, care Connections, elder Tree, others, it has made it a very doable situation. And she is happy and content. We almost moved her with Lisa at organizing mentors. She came in and did the whole plan helped us. My mother said, yes, I will. Yes I will. Yes I will. No, I won't. And so she still in the apartment where we first contracted, but if she ever wants to move down to one other place, Lisa's there ready to go. So without the help, I wouldn't be able to do what I've been able to do for our

Steve Gurney (08:55):

Excellent. And our next panel member is Gail. And thankfully, I only botched one name up here today. And Gail, tell us a little bit about your story. Well,

Susan (09:07):

Okay, so to that point, it's actually Susan, Gail, I didn't even know you knew my middle name.

Steve Gurney (09:16):

That is kind funny. Calling her by her middle name. Oh boy. I

Susan (09:20):

Didn't even know it, right? You did. Okay. Okay. So my story actually, it's almost like she's telling my story. Wow, how did this happen? So mine is about my mother as well. She is now 95 years old, lived on her own in a three level townhome until she was 88. She was in perfect health, an exercise, not fanatic, but she was very committed, healthy eater, worked out every day, walked, and it was really important to her to maintain her health. So she had planned all along. She was a smart woman and very determined. She'd planned all along to retire and move. When the time came to a condominium at Reston Town Center, she had purchased a unit at the Savoy Ground level, and it had always been her plan. She was going to go there. So we moved her. That was my first move at 88, and she loved it there.


I mean, it was absolutely fabulous. She like your mom took no medications. It was completely independent, very strong. And then again, like your story, a health event. She had a minor stroke that when it was all over after five days in the hospital, basically they said, she can't be left alone. She's a fall risk. You need caregivers. And it's like, oh, what do I do? So after going through months of trying to manage, hire, and manage five caregivers is the number that we had at one point in time just to manage day and night weekends. I had no idea what any of this was about. So after going through that, we said, we just can't keep doing this. I mean, the expense is amazing. So number one lesson learned is boy plan financially for this because it's costly. So we decided to move her into an assisted living facility, made all the visits to try to decide which one, and she did not want to go like your mom.


No, not going, going. Finally convinced her. She moved and it was good. It was pretty good. She was in assisted living for about a year and a month, and then another health event, congestive heart failure back in the hospital seven days. And then that was when it was, okay, when she's released, where are we going to go? So luckily my friend Steve was available to talk with my sisters, and I have three sisters who don't live in the area. So they all came, we all huddled. We got Steve on the phone on a conference call, amazing advice on who to talk to, introductions we visited, and within three days, we had made a decision on a facility for memory care and moved her in after her seven day hospital, stay under hospice care. That was another challenging thing to try to figure out and understand. But she's been in this new facility now a month, almost two months, and it's amazing her recovery from this heart failure and the strength she's building and how happy she is there and the care she's getting. It's amazing. So I've been through a lot of the negative stuff, but there's also been some really incredible positive things too. And I can't say enough about the people in this business and the compassion and care that everyone shows. It's absolutely amazing, and I'm glad to hear that JK moving does it too.

Steve Gurney (13:07):

I love it. No, this is great. So the cool thing is we got some great stories here, and they intertwine because as we've learned over here, part of the reason that these two are making made moves is because of some of these stories that you're hearing here. Once you've experienced a caregiving situation, you realize that you need to make some moves. So now what we're going to do is we'll just kind of, we're going to make this random conversations, and then I'd love for you and the audience to join in and ask questions or follow up or what have you. But one of the things when the four of us were huddling on the phone is that one of them said something like, it's not like a checklist. A lot of this is just the emotions of going through the move. And so maybe I'll kick things off for this next round of, you can share whatever you'd like to share, but maybe talking about the emotions of whether it be your possessions or this beautiful 3000 square foot home that you lived in Jeanie, if you want to kick it off,

Jeannie (14:21):

That's where I began. Another life. My husband

Steve Gurney (14:25):

Put it closer to your mouth.

Jeannie (14:27):

My husband


Was showing to me signs of being unable to keep up with the property and the equipment, and being in healthcare, having been involved in Alzheimer's Association, I used to ride the tour to Canal Grand Charity ride and raising money. And my mother's baby brother died of end stage Alzheimer's at the age of 83, from 80 to 83. That was it. And it's your gene pool. And his mother lived, my husband's mother lived with us for four years in this nice senior designed house, and she had vascular dementia, and I'm noting his behavior and forgetfulness, and I buy the condo in Lansdown Woods, and it's been an adjustment because he's only been diagnosed with Alzheimer's for three years now, and he's only accepted that for about two months, and he has had to pare back from his wood shop. But there is one that Landsdown Woods, and I was not on the same emotional plane that he was because he rejected having Alzheimer's, even though he was aware of his forgetfulness.


And I was just so glad to put that beautiful home behind it. It went to a minister by the name of Reverend Meyer. I mean, could I make that up in a book? It's sold for cash in full price. And so my husband jokes about this. His brother was very ill when the house sold, it sold in one day, and I got power of attorney, put him on a train to go see his brother in Florida, bought a condo. He said, don't ever give your wife a credit card or a power of attorney. So that's where we have evolved, and he's remaining very functional. He went through the memory clinic at Hopkins, and now they have us. They get our spinal fluid and our blood and our MRIs, and we're part of their clinical trials. Yeah, that's what we're marching about.

Steve Gurney (16:54):

Well, Jeannie, one of the things, and this is a tip that I've heard for many years, is that putting your husband on the train to go away during the moving process is actually a great solution. I've heard from a lot of the move managers where once you hire a move manager and you've got your floor plan, you know what you're taking, couples go away on a cruise so that they're, they don't even need to be there through this whole process.

Jeannie (17:23):

And because so much of it was on my responsibility, I just had to take the reins and send him away,

Steve Gurney (17:32):

And it worked. And right now, for those that aren't familiar with Lansdown Woods, it used to be Leisure World, Virginia, we're all familiar with Leisure World, Maryland, but right now it sounds like you're in a community with other people. His dementia is not progressed to the point where,

Jeannie (17:51):

Right, he's on a medication.

Steve Gurney (17:52):

Yeah. Have you started thinking about another move or what might happen after this?

Jeannie (18:00):

It's really sort of caught us into energy mode, and we're just spending so much energy with clinical trials and water volleyball, going to the gym and working out. I just retired from Jazzercise, but I participate in all the community of physical activities and just sort of keeping our heads above the water. We haven't gone there yet, but that is going to be a turn in the road.

Steve Gurney (18:29):

I love it.

Jeannie (18:29):


Steve Gurney (18:30):

Alright, well, here if you want to pass the mic to Jill. Jill. Now the interesting thing, Lansdown Woods is a high rise, senior living multifamily in Virginia. Jill, the community that you chose is single family homes in Maryland, and it was brand new construction, correct?

Jill (18:51):

Right. There's actually condominiums, villas, and single family homes. I moved to a single family home. I wanted a yard and I wanted one floor living. I do have a basement, but the basement is sort of auxiliary. And actually I was sharing that I had a bedroom put in the basement in anticipation of my future where I may need a caregiver to live with me and so that they would have their own room and their own bathroom and their own living space down there. So the basement's really for other people. And I live on the main floor now.


As I alluded to, I had the experience of moving my dad to learn from, and I learned some hard lessons in that move. One, I hired an state person who was pretty unscrupulous and it ended up costing me money. I ended up paying people to take away all the things that didn't sell. And so obviously that wasn't going to be an option for my next move. For my move. I did hire an auction company to sell some of the things that I had retained from my parents and some of my things, my Barbies, that kind of stuff, which I sold for a lot of money, my Barbies and my platform shoes.


But anyway, so that went better. But I also have to say that choosing the right real estate agent made all the difference for me because I had used this agent for my dad's sale and they had given me great advice about what to repair, what to rehab, and we got a great price for my dad's condo. He needed that money to live on. So I hired them again when I moved, and they provide a lot of extra services, which was very helpful to me, not only from a physical point of view, but from a mental point of view. They first of all, gave the same kind of advice about here's where you need to invest in upgrading this or updating something in your house. Secondly, they staged my house and then they provided the movers and the truck to move the things that didn't need to stay in my house to storage. And that was all part of the same fee. I didn't pay extra for any of that. So that was a big benefit to me. The one thing, I mentioned this to Steve is that if you're going to let someone stage your house, just make sure they don't take your favorite chair if you're going to be there for a long time.


I ended up watching television sideways for four months, and it wasn't great. But anyway, so that was a big help. I also enlisted the help of a lot of people. I mean, had to just, I've always been very self-reliant, but I had to realize I couldn't do it all myself. And so friends helped me with some of the packing. I hired organizers actually when I moved to my new house to help me unpack and put things away in a way that made sense and saved me the physical labor of all of it myself. And so I would just really say that having that extra help made a huge difference. It's psychologically very difficult. I mean, just even getting rid of my parents' stuff, forget my stuff. There was a dining room set that my mom had saved for years. She loved it. She went to New York to the show house to buy it, and it meant so much to her.


I couldn't give it away when I was having to downsize my dad. And it hurts. It hurt me for her. I mean, she isn't with us any longer. She doesn't know, but I knew how much it meant to her and it meant nothing to anybody else. And that was painful. I think that's the thing you have to really prepare yourself for is that your stuff isn't meaningful to anybody else. And you've got to be willing to let go of it and just take what you need and what really, really means a lot to you and let the rest of it go.

Steve Gurney (23:12):

I'm going to interrupt you real quick here because you bring up a question. Is that of those things that you got rid of, is there anything that you're sort of like, oh geez, why did I get rid of that? Or is it, have you stumbled into that? Or is a lot of people that I talked to are sort of like, I didn't need any of that stuff. I don't know why I was so emotional about it.

Jill (23:34):

Well, there's two parts to that answer. One is, I wish I had kept my Barbies longer because I think they'd be worth more now after the movie. But secondly, the answer to that is really no. And in fact, I kind of have a purging bug now. I did bring a few extra things that more than I needed to my new house, I wasn't quite sure where everything was going to go. And now I am faced with wanting to get rid of it. I don't want it. I don't want anything extra anymore. And I want my house to be really organized so I know where everything is. And then in case I start forgetting things, maybe my muscle memory will help me find my keys. And no, it was very freeing. I got rid of a lot of paperwork and I got rid of a lot of objects. I kept the things that were really, really special to me. And that's, it was hard, but I'm really glad I did it.

Steve Gurney (24:28):

But this is awesome. Here, let's let our two other panel members comment. And now we're kind of transitioning from the move on your own back to helping somebody else move. And I think the theme here is the emotion and stuff, but feel free to just share any thoughts

Janet (24:51):

And some lessons learned because seven years ago I did move to a home. It has Maine four Master, it has a full basement in case I need care. So I'm thinking, I'm planning ahead, but I didn't know about all these services. I packed every box myself. I unpacked every box myself. And I told my kids, I have two adult kids and their spouses. And I said, so the next time a box is packed in my house, you better be putting me in one because I'm never doing this again. And so then we moved our mother down here, and in her mind, this was temporary, so she would not let us sell her home. So that home in Pennsylvania has remained empty for six years. At the same time, I have a dear friend who passed away. I was her power of attorney and I am now her trustee and her appointed representative.


So she died in January. So I had to clean that out. And it's what you said, I knew how important those things were to her. And the dining room table in particular, she actually wouldn't move into an independent living unless she took her tape measure and measured to make sure that the dining room table would fit in the space. And I had to watch that go out the door along with a lot of other things. And I tried my best to give away what I could. So I told my kids one other thing, and that is I have a little file of info for them. And I added to the note and I said, I've learned that things are really important to me, and they're there because they have a story and I want them, I love them, but they're not yours. If you want them, take them.


If you don't feel free. And I laugh because I think my daughter and my daughter-in-law would not need that advice. I think they would be happy to get rid of anything. I think my son might want to hold onto things. But then right after I cleaned out my friend's home, my mother, we had an offer on my mother's home and she said, yes, you can sell it. So that thing was sold immediately and we had to clean that out. And I worked with my brother. I hired somebody to help in Maryland. I hired somebody to help in Pennsylvania, and I was standing there with my brother saying, what do we do? And he said, Janet, I've lived without this stuff for 65 years. So even if we make a mistake, it is what it is because I was left to do most of it. He lives far away and doesn't have a flexible job.

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Real-Life Stories About Moving & Downsizing and Senior Living Decisions by ProAging Podcast.docx

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