Valerie Achorn is a transition professional
When you are coming to terms with your elderly parents’ sickness or their newly-apparent dependence on caregivers, you shouldn’t have to worry about the mundane details an inevitable relocation will involve. If you simply don’t have the time or the energy to help your parents with their move to assisted living, you can rely on a professional who can perform this task seamlessly for you. Valerie Achorn is that person, and Simplified Lives, her company, is the service you need.
After helping her parents move twice while her father was suffering from Alzheimer’s, Achorn realized how difficult it is for a spouse to go through the ordeal with which her mother was faced. She wanted to specialize in moving seniors by facilitating every step of the thorny process. Her background in special events management – overseeing important, large-scale events for states, universities and cities – prepared Achorn for connecting the dots for clients and staying grounded when faced with circumstances that might prove challenging for others.
An acquaintance with a busy job hired Achorn in 2009 to move her family across the country, saying, “You are the most organized, competent person I have ever met, and, if I ever want somebody to move me, it would be you.” Once Achorn aced the task, the woman’s great recommendation led to other jobs, and people started telling Achorn that she should consider starting a business.
Hesitant at first to plunge into such an unusual field, Achorn gained support upon discovering the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
Having moved 35 times in her life, Achorn was a professional mover and packer even before she completed the necessary training, bought insurance and provided references to become the organization’s member and be listed on NASMM.org. Once she joined, she says everything fell into place: “It solidified for me – this is what I wanted to do.” Having done volunteer work for a council on aging in Massachusetts, she feels that older people are sometimes treated as if they were invisible. Achorn believes that we don’t revere them the way we should, “We don’t take the time to figure out what they want or need. I try to have my services focused on them – to go slowly, be thorough and efficient and thoughtfully help with this very big transition.”
Achorn works with many out-of-state adult children, siblings who are often scattered throughout the country. Making order out of chaos involves multiple phone conferences and emails. Sometimes, one of the parents has dementia or the onset of Alzheimer’s. Every so often, the house, which she prepares for a ready-to-sell state, is unoccupied because the parents have died. In those instances, the children usually don’t even know where to begin. She eases the way during the trying circumstances.
Typically, the process begins with a phone conversation. If someone is thinking about moving and wants help, Achorn offers a free, no-obligation consultation. After she assesses their needs, she helps them get their house ready to go on the market. If someone is thinking of staying in their home and needs to have some necessary work completed to make the stay possible, Achorn is there to do just that. She will oversee various provisions, including the installation of safety items, such as handrails and stairwell chair lifts.
Another major part of her service is helping people sort through a lifetime of possessions – decide what they want to keep, send away to friends and relatives, sell or donate. Often, real estate agents will contact her when their clients feel overwhelmed by having to empty their sold houses to allow the new owners to move in. Working with an online auction company, she completes household sales in a prompt manner. While she acts as the company’s referral for Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, Achorn doesn’t accept a fee because she wants to stay objective and to keep her clients’ best interests at heart.
Ellen Sucov, a recent client, benefitted from Achorn’s skillful handling of her move: “In July, when I told Wendy Joering [Community Concierge at the Jewish Alliance of RI] that we were planning to move to Israel, she recommended Valerie Achorn as someone who could help us with the move. Valerie has been a treasure and a blessing. She provided competent skills, splendid intelligence and warm support throughout each phase of our preparations. I recommend her highly to anyone who is contemplating a move.”
Additionally, Achorn networks with healthcare providers. Associations of assisted living are a huge referral source for her. Diane Lamontagne, the sales manager at Laurelmead Cooperative on the East Side of Providence, describes Achorn as “a great person and a great help to our residents.” Lamontagne shares that Achorn has assisted some Laurelmead residents in their moving process: “She helps with packing, sorting, furniture placement, unpacking and just about anything else her clients need. Simplified Lives is a perfect name – it’s what she does – she simplifies lives.”
Amy Levine, director of provider and community relations at the Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence, says: “Valerie instills confidence in her clients whom she helps in managing the often daunting tasks associated with moving and with paring down belongings. She exudes class and is very efficient in her work, regardless of the scope and size of the job. … It is a pleasure to work with her, and she truly aims to keep things simple and to leave her customers satisfied with the results of downsizing and relocation.”
When she first entered the field, Achorn “wasn’t sure that this was going to be an entire profession,” but now she sees the need for the services she provides, saying, “It makes me happy to see the relief.” She often tells her clients to give her their anxiety and let go. They feel free to call her at night and on weekends; after all, she’s their “moving advocate,” as she describes it.
For more information: Contact Valerie Achorn at 401-480-1532 or at Valerie@SimplifiedLives.com.