Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on the business of aging.
Monica Young took one fragile glass item at a time off the shelves of Alma Moser’s china cabinet Tuesday morning.
“Anytime you see colored glass like this, you know it’s really old,” Young said as she held a pale pink glass serving dish. “I think it’s fun to look at their things. Every piece has a story and you just want to ask them about it.”
Young moves seniors out of their homes and into independent living, assisted living and long-term nursing care facilities. She has built a successful business doing it quickly, efficiently and thoughtfully.
Her business, Things Forgotten but Not Gone Senior Movers, grosses about $100,000 a year and employs six women part time. It also supports moving subcontractors.
Young moved her own mother into a long-term care facility in Baltimore in 2002 and then helped to move her mother-in-law a couple years later.
“After doing that, I thought I sure would have paid someone to do it for me,” Young said. “You give up your vacation time and it’s so emotional.”
So, she gave up managing databases for nonprofit organizations in 2005 and pursued this business. She began marketing her services to some of the senior facilities in the area and the business slowly started to pick up. In the beginning, it was just Young and one helper and it would take four days to move everything in a two-bedroom place.
She grossed $25,000 her first year, she said. The business has evolved.
It took her team eight hours to move Moser from her two-bedroom condo at Saturn Towers on the southwest side of town to a two-bedroom apartment at Brookdale Senior Living — Village at Skyline on Tuesday. And it wasn’t just a move. It was a complete recreation of Moser’s home in a new location.
“Seniors don’t like change,” Young said.
Armed with that universal truth, Young has found her niche. She and her team, which includes six detail-oriented ladies, most of them baby boomers who have moved their own senior parents and know how hard and how emotional the experience can be, do something different.
Young’s team only moves seniors.
“They’re easier,” she said. “They’re not going to change their minds about where they want things.”
They pack everything from the angel figurines sitting on the TV stand to the sugar in the dish on the kitchen counter and in the same day, they put it all back just as it was in the senior’s new home.
Angela Spence, a marketing associate at Village at Skyline, said she recommends Young anytime someone expresses concern about the moving process, which is often.
She estimates that six out of 10 people who move into the facility hire Young and her team.
“It’s just so easy to work with her,” Spence said. “She’s really done her research.”
Young’s team started in Moser’s Saturn Towers condo at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The family wanted to make some adjustments to the floor plan.
Young has magnetic floor plans from all the senior living facilities in Colorado Springs and little to-scale magnetic furniture. She lets her senior clients arrange the furniture in their new places with those visual aids to help them decide what they will take with them and what they will leave behind.
The system lets the seniors see how things will fit so they know if they really can fit that china hutch in the new place.
“Which, they all want,” Young said.
She moves more women than men just because women tend to live longer, she said. And the women always want to take their china hutches, which are filled with delicate dishes and strong memories.
“Look at this,” Young said as she removed a set of gold bells fringed with tinsel. “This is probably from her wedding.”
Young loads the fragile things from the china cabinet in her car instead of sending it with the movers.
Moser lived at Saturn Towers more than 28 years, she said.
“I never did like to move,” she said. “I just have to be honest about that.”
The 98-year-old woman didn’t want to leave Saturn Towers, but she said her four daughters worried she wasn’t eating enough while living on her own and that it was getting too hard for her to make her own meals.
She and her husband Clifton, who was a pastor, always talked about one day retiring at the Village at Skyline.
“Unfortunately, he died before he could retire here,” Moser said.
She has been on her own for more than two decades and her daughters worried the move would be tough.
“Every move she’s made was traumatic,” Moser’s youngest daughter Eileen Holbrook said. “We didn’t want this one to be traumatic.”
The daughters had never heard of senior moving services, but they were happy to have found Young.
Holbrook was visiting from Texas. Another daughter came in from Canada. One lives in Denver and McPherson lives in Colorado Springs.
The daughters came in to help their mother get settled and spent the day Tuesday strolling through Old Colorado City, shopping and sipping sodas at restaurants while Things Forgotten did all the packing and unpacking.
By 4 p.m., Young’s team was saying goodbye.
The daughters were impressed the team could do it all in a day.
“I can’t believe they could do it at all,” Moser said.
Moser’s photographs were on the walls. The angels were arranged on top of the TV stand exactly as Moser had them at her last home and a painting of the Maroon Bells hung above the TV, just where it belonged, McPherson said. All of the china was arranged in the china cabinet as Moser had it and the calendar hung on the wall in the kitchen.
“This is a little more expensive,” said Moser’s son-in-law, Jerry Holbrook. “But I think this was the way to do it.”