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Class of 71
Moving Memories and More
caller was frantic. His father lives
in an Alzheimers facility. His mother had sold her house to move
to a retirement village, and had to leave within a month. But she broke
her arm and leg in a fall, requiring six weeks of rehabilitation.
With that phone call, this
logistical nightmare became another organizational challenge met by Margit
Novack CW71 GCP75 and her staff at Moving Solutions, a Havertown-based
company which provides moving-related services to older adults.
"We took five rolls
of film of every single thing in house, labeled what it was, made double
copies and put them in an album organized by room," Novack explains.
"We took the floor plan for the new unit and, with her at the rehabilitation
facility, used the album as a reference tool so she could be involved.
We packed everything up, stayed there while the movers loaded, then supervised
as they unloaded." The next day, their client came home to a completely
Following a career in medical
administration (she was formerly an acute care manager at the Hospital
of the University of Pennsylvania), Novack became interested in creating
a business that would involve working with older adults. She founded Moving
Solutions in 1996. Three years and some 300 moves later, her company was
named 1999 Business of the Year by the American Society on Aging in the
"Moving is a chore for
anyone, but for the elderly it becomes incredibly complicated," Novack
says. In many cases, the elderly persons grown children live too
far away to assist, or are tied up with their own job and child-rearing
responsibilities. Many senior moves are precipitated by illness, a fall
or the death of a spouse. Most clients also face the task of paring down
the accumulation of a lifetime.
Armed with bubblewrap, boxes
and checklists, Moving Solutions consultants help coordinate all aspects
of a move aside from the actual loading and hauling. Novack stresses the
need for caring treatment of people and possessions. "Sometimes our
clients are crying. Sometimes were helping them pack a plastic bride
and groom from a wedding cake. It has no material value, but its
priceless. We do hear the stories, and the stories are an important part
of people saying goodbye."
One thing this business has
taught her, Novack says, is not to generalize about the elderly population.
"Ive moved dozens of people who are still incredibly activeartists
in their eighties and nineties, 90-year-olds installing Windows 98 on
their computersand Ive moved people in their seventies who
are confused." But though "they may be very frail now,"
she points out, in the process of helping them pack, "you see what
they did at other times in their lives. Its humbling, because its
very clear youre seeing one chapter in a long book."
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Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 3/31/99