For Emily Rosher, it was simply a time to make a career transition. Having worked in the dentistry field for three decades, she felt the need to do something else in her life that she enjoyed.
So like most people in her position, Rosher, 50, did some research on the Internet, finally discovering what would be the next phase of her life.
"I knew I wanted to do something to help seniors and I found a National Association of Senior Move Managers online," the Columbus native said. "I had done it informally for years, helping my mom and parents and aunts and uncles downsize and relocate. It's something I knew I could do and be good at."
Thus, a business called Silver Service was born two years ago. And with the title of senior move manager, Rosher has been helping aging and ailing folks downsize from larger homes to smaller dwellings, or perhaps an assisted living facility.
With a part-time staff of five, she also has got into estate liquidation. That's on top of the packing and boxing of items that will be moved -- with the help of a moving company -- to the client's new home or perhaps to their children's house, some of whom live away from Columbus.
The Ledger-Enquirer talked with Rosher recently about her job, its emotional aspect and the outlook for growth in senior move management. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What does your job entail?
We offer free consultations, so we meet with the clients and see what their needs are. Usually there's downsizing and sorting and then floor planning as to what's going to fit in their new place. Typically they're going to an assisted living facility or smaller home or a patio home or something like that. We just want to make sure that the furniture they want in their new home will fit, because sometimes seniors can bring way more than would fit in a house.
So you have to clean out the clutter?
You want them to have clear walkways -- 28 to 36 inches in some places -- where they would be able to walk through a room without tripping on anything. You make sure if they have a walker they have room for that. You're just planning for the future and you don't want it to be too cluttered. Even if they stay at home, we recommend that they de-clutter. Many older clients grew up in the Great Depression era and they never got rid of anything, thinking they might need it later.
Is putting stuff in storage part of that?
We don't recommend storage because people never get it out. We recommend that they give to family, sell and then donate. When I go to a home, I usually ask what the children want and if we need to ship it to them or if they need to come get it. We'll do an estate or downsizing sale, usually after they've moved, so everything that's left in the house is for sale. And then we donate whatever is left and arrange for a charity pickup.
All of your customers are older?
My youngest client was 64 and my oldest 96, so it's a pretty good range. But they're all different. Sometimes the clients are not even in the house. I had two ladies whose children moved them to Atlanta because they had Alzheimer's and they wanted them to be close to them. I was sorting through their 40-year collections, so I was the one to make the decision to keep all of the photos and family memorabilia and financial information. I just boxed that up separately and gave that to the family, and took care of selling everything else.
It must become emotional?
We say we help with the physical and the emotional part of downsizing and relocating, because it is so emotional. And, physically, some of them just cannot clear out the closet or go to the attic or basement and get all of the things out. But they don't cry, like you might think. It helps for them to tell stories while you're sorting, so they can tell you about how they got it and when they got it. They remember everything about the items, and it does them good to talk about it.
What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I'm helping them, but they just give so much love back. It's wonderful to be so appreciated. The love I get from my clients is certainly the best part.
So this is a growth field, particularly with the graying Baby Boomer population?
There are about 700 senior move managers nationwide. I'm the first in Columbus, but they have several in Atlanta, and they are in Savannah and Macon. It really started up in the Northeast, and there a great deal of them in Florida, as you might imagine, with people retiring there.
They expect this field to grow exponentially in the next 10 years. This is the first time you have multiple generations downsizing. You could have 100-year-olds and their 80-year-old daughter and their 56-year-old granddaughter all downsizing at the same time. That's why you see places like Front Porch of the South and Joey's Market and all of these thrift shops popping up. They expect there will be a tsunami of things hitting the market over the next few years with the tendency to downsize more these days. It's sometimes for financial reasons and sometimes because it's all too much for them.
What's the most important quality for someone in your job?
I would say empathy for what these older people are going through and being able to help them emotionally and make the transition smoothly.