JAMAICA -- A new industry is taking off with firms popping up around the United States that provide senior citizens support while they are in the process of downsizing or moving.
"It’s growing by leaps and bounds," said Alice Abraham, owner of A Tempo Senior Move LLC.
After 12 years since the industry’s inception, Abraham’s business is the only such firm in the state of Vermont. It is located in Jamaica in Windham County, a county that has the highest concentration of senior citizens in a state that has the second largest population of elderly people following Maine.
Since January 2011, Abraham said 10,000 baby boomers are retiring daily, which makes for a growing market.
"There’s a great need all over the country," she added. "Basically, we’re helping seniors navigate the variety of different decisions."
Although, A Tempo Senior Move has only been hired to assist with two different households in Windham County, it will be looking to get the word out during National Senior Move Managers Week, from May 11-18.
All senior move managers are part of the National Association of Senior Move Managers or NASMM, which annually recognizes the week that celebrates the industry. Those who consider themselves senior move managers are required to go through training in order to enter the association.
According to a press release, the theme for this year’s celebration will be "Beyond the Move: Ethics, Safety and More.
Abraham told the Reformer that senior move managers act as facilitators that can also provide advice for modifying homes to age and place. Part of her work includes floor planning. She believes it is important that floor plans remain familiar to the person she is assisting, especially if the person has some form of dementia.
The emotional connection to items and belongings is important during these transitions too, says Abraham. A person tends to be attached to a house where they spent the last 30 to 40 years, which she finds typical of most New Englanders.
"So many families think the adult children or nieces and nephews can handle the situation and quickly pack everything for the senior. But they forget, it’s all the emotional process that’s paralyzing them," said Abraham. "It’s happening for boomers too. It’s not age specific. It’s so much more than sorting or packing up boxes."
She compared the process of downsizing to sugaring. It is important to recognize, she added, that choices may be limited for the senior but they must be in control of their own life.
"You have to be constantly aware of what you’re doing," said Abraham. "You can do great damage to someone ... (The senior) needs to be able to, all along the process, have some control over what’s going to happen to them."
Realtors, auctioneers and movers assist in the process. Their hiring is based on a referral system with no commission for Abraham.
As the town representative for the Aging Council for Senior Solutions, a member of the Jamaica Historical Foundation and a board member of the Vermont Society of Modern Psychoanalysis, Abraham hopes to meet more people in need of her service. She has already assisted people in Maine, western Massachusetts, Boston, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Her experience as both a librarian and a music librarian for public broadcast radio station WGHB in Boston has proven to be useful in organizing her clients’ collections. Some of the process can get personal, especially when old love letters are involved.
"You have to try and establish that trust up front," said Abraham. "It’s very rewarding working with each individuals’ case. It quite often ends up in hugs and good friendships. I don’t know how many people I’ve ended up becoming friends with."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.