For many people, the New Year represents an opportunity for a fresh start.
However, hitting the reset button and re-focusing on our priorities can be easier said than done. It’s a particular challenge for many seniors across the country every year, for no other reason than the fact that they have had more time than most of us to accumulate a lot of stuff! Whether seniors are anticipating a move, or they simply want to de-clutter their lives, downsizing definitely has its upside!
Rest assured that you and your family have options when it comes to enlisting help along the way. Whether you are in a time crunch or simply overwhelmed by the thought of where to start, there are some amazing senior move managers out there. According to Charna Kinneberg, founder of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) and CEO of Senior Transitions, Inc. in Maryland, hiring a move coordinator can be a great move in itself no matter how much assistance you need. Move managers can streamline the whole process from start to finish, or it can simply help you organize and create floor plans.
If you are interested in hiring downsizing or moving consultants, make sure that they are NASMM members. Having an objective professional by your side often helps family members avoid the emotional pitfalls of parting with familiar yet obsolete possessions, waving goodbye to childhood homes, and making other decisions that can seem difficult in the short term but almost always prove beneficial in the long term.
Charna emphasizes that the primary focus should always be on the freer, more agile lifestyle on the horizon. Downsizing allows you to focus on the possessions that you really value and need. These are the things you’ll be keeping. When you envision yourself living a leaner, more focused life, always keep yourself front-and-center.
If you picture yourself sewing, then of course you should keep your sewing machine and supplies. If writing is your passion, then be sure to hold onto those stories you’ve been working on! These core possessions are extensions of our goals, our values, and ourselves as individuals. Next, look over your knick-knacks, your trinkets, and your baubles. Which ones mesh with your new lifestyle?
There are always moments when you or your loved one will feel indecisive. If you ever get stuck on an item during this audit of your possessions, simply put it aside in a special box. Give yourself a little time apart from them—that almost always puts each object’s true value in perspective. It’s then much easier to keep what you miss and donate or pass down to friends and family the items you can part with. And whether it’s a favorite chair, reading lamp, or footrest—don’t forget those cozy pieces of furniture that put you in your sweet spot!
It can be easy to pause over the many volumes of photos collected through the years. Thanks to today’s technology, you can still easily access every vivid memory without having to lug around those heavy old photo albums! Ask a grandchild to scan your pictures onto a computer. You can then load any combination of those photos into a sleek electronic frame or access all of them from your own computer, laptop, tablet, or phone! Or, if you love them in a book, your favorite photos can be printed and bound into beautiful coffee table books. There are plenty of great companies that can help you with this. It sure beats all those yellowing photo books you probably have stuffed in cabinets or shelves!
Charna advises careful consideration if you are helping a loved one with memory challenges downsize and/or move. She says that it’s often best to wait until the day of the move to reallocate any possessions, because your loved one may think they were stolen. She says it’s almost always a great idea to pack older pictures to remind loved ones of themselves and other people important in their lives.
It’s been been estimated that 80 percent of what we own, we never use! Downsizing creates a calmer environment which reduces stress levels, saves time and money, and enhances a happier lifestyle. Celebrate the things in your life that help you live your life to its fullest, and experience the upside of downsizing in 2014!
About the Author: Sherri Zaslow is the Outreach Coordinator of Tudor Heights in Baltimore, Maryland.