Helping seniors move to smaller spaces

The arrival of April motivates many homeowners to declutter and work on house repairs. If your spring cleaning to-do list seems overwhelmingly long, imagine how long-time Beach Metro Community News reader Ruth felt when she decided to sell her three-story house that had belonged to her family since 1930.

A lot of personal items can accumulate in a family home over 80 years; the house near Main and Kingston contained items dating back to when her parents initially lived there.

“There was no way I could do this on my own,” explained Ruth. However, she did not want to impose upon her nieces and nephews, and her “friends were too old to help.”

So the octogenarian went online to search for assistance and found Move Seniors Lovingly. Started in 2006 by husband and wife team Brian and Margo Salnek, the company helps prepare an existing home for sale, choose a real estate agent, downsize and organize the move, sell unwanted furniture and estate items, and design and set-up the new residence.

“Moving is physically and mentally stressful,” said Ruth. “She (Margo) really made it a lot easier.” Margo helped her decide what to let go and what to keep, planned the layout of her new home in advance, and did the move.

Ruth was surprised how quickly an old stove and an old washing machine ‘disappeared’ from her front lawn after these were brought up from her basement. A neighbour reported the washer was taken in less than 15 minutes.

Many of her books were donated to the Toronto Reference library, and Ruth was happy to learn the library will sell or give away any of her books the library is unable to use.

Other items went to family members. Many of her nieces and nephews kept pieces of her furniture, and one of her nieces with a keen interest in local history, who lives in the Beach, volunteered to look after old family photos.

Ruth’s new home is a condo near Yonge and Bloor where she has easy access to grocery stores, book stores, apparel stores and other necessities, within her building. She enjoys going to nearby museums and art galleries. The busy retiree reflected it would be hard to imagine how a senior living somewhere like Kingston Road in the Beach could have access to everything they need without being able to drive.

In her new location, Ruth is happy to discover banks with special lines to serve seniors, lower counters and chairs seniors can use to rest if they have to wait for a teller.

“When I use my scooter, I get to go straight to the front of the line,” added the former Beach resident.

Prior to starting Move Seniors Lovingly, Salnek, among many things, wrote Coach Houses of Toronto, a popular coffee-table book full of beautiful ideas for small spaces.

Today Margo uses her eye for design in small spaces to create a detailed floor plan to help clients visualize their new living area. “Most clients want to take too much to their new home,” Margo explained.“Once they know what is going to their new home, it is easier for them to let go during the downsizing process.”

Ruth had decided to downsize proactively, which often is not the case. “Many seniors wait until they are sick and are forced into the transition. Now they are faced with making decisions when their health is fragile or worse, decisions are being made by someone else,” noted Margo.

For more information about Move Seniors Lovingly, which serves the GTA, or for dates of Margo’s upcoming The How To’s To Move Forward seminars, visit the company website at or call 416-408-0424.

Beach Metro News readers can share tips and resources for helping seniors downsize in the comments for this article at Or perhaps you have some suggestions for improving the accessibility of services in the Beach to seniors or want to flag a senior-friendly Beach business.

March 2012 was fraud prevention month

The Toronto Police Services community handbook Frauds and scams against seniors warns seniors are often targeted by con artists for many reasons. Helpful tips in the handbook include:

• Do not rush into agreements that involve your property or money. Take your time and ask questions. Get more than one opinion as to the necessity of the work and a written quotation as to the cost.

• Be careful when signing contracts. It may be appropriate to have a family member, friend or legal representative review it first.

To minimize your vulnerability to fraud and scam, you can read a copy of this handbook online at or contact 55 Division, Crime Prevention at 416-808-5570.

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