Surfing the Silver Tsunami, Helping Other Seniors in Transition

Charna Kinnberg (Photo provided)

Charna Kinneberg has worked in many capacities in her careers, including as an RN in charge of a Texas border town community hospital, and in the medical software industry. But the Southern New Jersey native, who also has a master’s in business under her belt, really found her niche when it came time to help her aging father move first to rehab and then to an assisted living facility.

“My mother had died and my dad was an amputee at the time, he lost a second leg and we ended up having to move him to where I was living at the time, and that was in Maryland,” said Kinneberg, 66, who now lives in Bel Air. She is a member of Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace.

Her sister-in-law sent over a “move manager” to help Kinneberg clear out her father’s apartment and get everything where it needed to be.

“Every time I asked her if she could do something she said yes,” Kinneberg recalled. “So whether it be getting things shipped, getting rid of the trash; not a problem. Donate a couch; not a problem. Anything I asked, she said, ‘Yeah we can do that.’ So that left me to be able to get my father into assisted living.”

Knowing nothing about the eldercare world at the time, Kinneberg remembers seeing “Baltimore’s Child” magazine and wishing there was a similar resource for seniors.

“There’s nothing like that for elder care,” Kinneberg said. “You kind of have to pierce the bubble, and once you pierce it you can find lots of resources. But figuring how to get into that bubble is a little bit difficult.”

Meanwhile, with a 90-year-old father and a young daughter, Kinneberg found that going out of town for her work with the medical software company was becoming untenable.

“I was traveling for work all over the country,” she said. “With the demands of my child and the demands of my father, it became apparent that I couldn’t continue that kind of a lifestyle. So I started a company.”

Kinneberg founded Senior Transitions in 2002. At the end of her first year of business, she was contacted by Margit Novak who was interested in forming a national association. So, Kinneberg was on the ground floor of founding the National Association of Senior Move Managers.

“There were 22 of us from 16 companies that met in Washington, D.C., in November of 2002,” Kinneberg said. “That organization now has over 1,000 members.”

Since then, Senior Transitions has grown from a one-woman show to a dozen staff members.

Kinneberg at the National Association of Senior Move Managers. (Photo provided)

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “We do about 150 to 200 moves a year.”

Kinneberg’s services run the gamut, from helping people organize floor plans for their move-in space to “here are the keys, go fix it. Make the old stuff go away and put the new stuff where I’m moving.”

For the seniors and staff at North Oaks in Pikesville, Senior Transitions is a life-saver.

“It makes the transition from home to a senior living community so much easier and more manageable. Not just for the senior, but for their families,” said North Oaks director of sales and marketing Cindy Wolf. “One of the main objections is not that [seniors] don’t want to come to a senior living community, but that they don’t know what to do; the process just seems so overwhelming. For Charna and her company to provide a service where we can alleviate those concerns is tremendous. We see the benefits of her service every day and with every person she’s been able to move.”

Kinneberg, technically a senior herself at 66, and her husband at 70, have no immediate plans to slow down. She, like many working and active seniors, is also raising a grandchild.

“We both enjoy working. We both look at each other and say, ‘Well, if we didn’t work, what would we do?’” she said. “The best part of my job is I like to go in and come up with solutions for people, whether it’s, ‘We need to get the place cleaned out quickly,’ or ‘I’m moving to another state.’”

Kinneberg is also proud of hiring middle-aged women “that would otherwise have a difficult time finding employment, to be able to work,” she added. “I just like what I do.”

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