If you are an older adult moving into a senior residential living community, or if your family has a senior loved one who is planning such a move, there’s a lot to organize beforehand. You may need to find storage for furniture and other personal items that cannot stay in the home, perhaps due to its impending sale or the Senior Living facility selected may have limited space for residents’ treasured personal items. Even if a facility has virtually unlimited space for personal belongings, it’s still a good idea to store some of the bulkier and heavier items in a safe place until you’re sure the new community will be a good fit and a permanent home. By taking this route, you’ll save the trouble of having to move everything multiple times if a change in residence is required.
Senior storage needs are different from the needs of the general public.
It takes time and research to find a good match with a senior storage facility.
Storage may be only short term, though changes in the unit size and requirements may be common.
Some seniors’ items may remain in storage for many years before being retrieved.
Things to Look for in Senior Storage Arrangements
Meeting seniors’ needs for storage requires some unique concessions on the part of the storage facility. Extra space for large amounts of furniture, for example, helps keep all of a seniors’ household items together. Flexible pricing, or even a veterans’ discount, can be beneficial for many seniors and families trying to budget a move.
Flexibility is also helpful several months after signing the initial contract when the senior is settled in and has the space to move some items out of storage and into their new home. It may be that a smaller storage unit is more appropriate after the couch, bed, dresser and several boxes of keepsakes have been transferred to the senior living community. Larger storage sites that have many different-sized units available make it simple to shift the remaining items to a smaller and less expensive unit. This option is also much easier when rent on the unit is month-to-month from the start, instead of a fixed-term lease that requires you to rent a specific unit for a year or more.
Some storage facilities offer valet service to help move items into or out of a storage unit or offer a van or truck delivery for a nominal charge. Valet service is especially attractive for many seniors, even those who have family members who live close enough to help with such a move. One study found that seniors in America are up to five times more afraid of becoming a burden to their loved ones than of dying. A storage facility with a convenient and affordable valet service provides seniors with the option of handling item relocations by themselves. This helps them take more control of their affairs and lessens the embarrassment that occurs when they feel they’re imposing on loved ones.
Warning Signs to Watch Out For
It’s always a good idea to start your search for acceptable senior storage as early as you can. As you investigate storage facilities, you might notice characteristics that lead you to believe the site is not a good match for you or your senior loved one. Common warning signs include:
Rigid pricing or unit policies that impose a one-size-fits-all approach to senior storage
Long-term lease requirements that force seniors to rent more space than they’re likely to need in the near future
Inadequate security at the site, given the cash value of expensive items and heirlooms that are being stored
Restricted access or bad site layouts, which can make it difficult for movers to get close to the unit when moving bulky items such as couches
Poorly sealed units that are not ventilated or climate-managed, which can expose irreplaceable items to moisture, mold, bugs, and other hazards
Puddles of water inside public areas of the building, which indicate that leaks might be present within the units themselves
How to Shop Around for Great Senior Storage Facilities
The importance of finding a great storage solution for a senior can’t be overstated. It takes time and research that should include physically visiting the sites you’re considering, to inspect them in person. Start your search online by looking up storage facilities located within a convenient distance of either the senior facility you’ve settled on or the home of a family member who can help with the move. Glance over the sites’ features and amenities and make a ranked list of the facilities you are considering, based on factors that matter to you, such as price, location, and security.
Once you have a list of at least three to six potential sites, call and make an appointment to visit each of them. If you have the time, consider showing up unannounced a couple of days before your scheduled appointments to observe how the places normally operate on a daily basis.
Look for evidence of leaks and gaps in the structure of the units, as well as dents or scrapes on the doors that could indicate frequent break-in attempts or other trouble. Finally, ask about price structures, flexibility in changing units, lease conditions, and whether the facility offers discounts to senior citizens, veterans, or their surviving spouses.
Final Questions to Ask When You’re Researching Senior Storage Options
Apart from inquiring about pricing discounts, consider asking the site manager some of these questions to get a fuller idea of how your storage choice is likely to work out:
Does the site offer extra-secure storage options for valuable items such as jewelry collections, art, or military medals? What about insurance on these items?
Does this facility report unusual events, such as fires, leaks, or break-in attempts, to residents in a timely manner?
If a senior client falls behind in their payments, how long is the grace period before the facility seizes their stored items?
Is on-site staff available to assist seniors with limited mobility? Are there fees for this service?
Does this facility limit the frequency of visits?
Has this facility ever had an issue with bedbugs, toxic mold, or other hazardous materials?
Can vehicles be stored at the location?
Can people other than the listed renter, such as a senior’s next of kin or caregiver, collect items or access the site without the senior being present? How are those permissions granted and documented?
Seniors often have unique needs when it comes to looking for storage that younger adults may not have to think about. Reaching out to experts in the fields of Senior Move Management and Senior Organizing can help guide your loved ones through their senior move with ease.