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Living a Simpler, Less Complicated Life.
Helpful tips and insights for exploring the many options and paths available for living a simpler, less complicated life through downsizing.
We welcome input and topic ideas from our site visitors--connect with us at: Contact
At what age should a person downsize?
There is no magic age or life's circumstance that can determine when to downsize. We have worked with recent retirees and empty-nesters, and those in their 90's, all with different needs and life stories. One thing we know from our work experience is the older a person is when they downsize and move, the harder the process can be for them. This is especially true if the older adult has become ill or is dealing with a worsening illness. In this case, the downsizing tasks are typically left to the family or professionals.
Each person arrives at their own decision about downsizing and some choose to remain in their home. If staying in the home is preferred, the contents can still be sorted and pared down in order to make the living environment friendlier with fewer obstacles to navigate around. Modifications may also be needed to accommodate aging, illness, and mobility issues.
What is the most difficult part of downsizing and how long does it take to downsize?
It is my belief, based on years of experience in this field, that the most difficult part of downsizing starts with a steadfast resolve to see the process steps through to the end. If there isn't an honest desire to make things happen, there won't be a successful lifestyle change. Whatever the original motivation to downsize, there must be an unwavering commitment to go the distance or the best intentions will likely fizzle out.
Unless there is a time deadline, such as when a house has sold, the downsizing process can take several weeks, months, and even years to complete. It is simply never too early to start the process even if you're years away from an actual move. And by establishing a pace that's right for you and setting attainable goals, there will be less stress and greater rewards. It's doable!
Are there emotions involved with downsizing?
Yes, positive and negative. This can often be a very difficult time for many. When someone is sorting through a lifetime of living, the memories can become overwhelming and trigger profound sadness. We believe there are several ways to work through the sadness. Here are some of the suggestions we recommend:
Never deny the emotions you are experiencing. You are feeling them for a reason. You may be happy one day feeling positive about your decision to downsize and then the next day you experience great sadness. This is actually quite normal.
Reach out to someone--a family member, a friend, pastor, or counselor*--and share what you are feeling. It's important to talk about what you're experiencing.
Take a break from whatever stage of the downsizing process you are in. Step away. Engage in an activity that brings joy. Take the time you need, you will know when it's time to return to your tasks.
A Note to Adult Children--the act of cleaning out the family home can be very, very difficult. If you experience extreme sadness, as I did after my mom passed, do not hesitate to reach out to someone.
Where do I begin? I stop and start but don't seem to make any progress.
Start with a plan of action. This is the goal setting step in the process. Write it down! What do you want to accomplish and by when? Once your written plan is complete, assign tasks and dates for beginning and ending each task. Use a calendar for recording tasks and dates, then post it where it will be seen. When the days and weeks are visible, the plan is more "real". As tasks are completed, mark them off but keep the pages to remember how far you've come!
Be realistic about the time you're allotting for tasks--not enough time assigned will result in not completing the task and possibly becoming frustrated. Adjust time as needed but don't give up. Also allow for interruptions--life happens but limit the work schedule interruptions if possible. Learn to say "No" when you need to.
Making your plan of action. Start by assessing your living environment, room-by-room. What tasks can be assigned on your action plan? Is a particular room overly cluttered or hard to navigate through? Or, is the room going to require very little time to go through and pare down?
Always assess tasks with success in mind. Don't set yourself up for failure by taking on more than you're ready to handle. Early-on tasks should be kept doable for fast completion which in turn gives a rewarding sense of accomplishment! Do not jump from room-to-room or task-to-task. Stay focused on one room, one task at a time. If you allow yourself to task-float you are destined to become overwhelmed. Try to avoid this.
When everyone doesn't agree about downsizing.
Possibly your spouse (if applicable) or the children don't share your views about simplifying life through downsizing. Sometimes it's hard to understand why this is, but it's not uncommon. Not having the buy-in from family you were hoping for can be a difficult situation especially when you believe it would be for the best. If you've given serious thought to your next life journey and have planned out how to achieve it, it's time to sit down with the family and talk it through. Be prepared though as every positive could be countered with a negative.
The bottom line is, it is your life and what you are wanting to do is not out of line. You are looking down the road of aging and have decided it's time to be free from the things in your life that you no longer want to be bothered with. Begin planning by writing down the pros and cons of your desire to simplify. Keep your list where you can revisit it or update it as time goes by. Remember, there is no time limit on how long it can take to downsize, so by planning in advance you are able to start through the process steps.
Adult children play an important role.
How do you know it may be time to have a conversation with your parent(s) about downsizing? Writing this is difficult as each family is different but paying attention to what is going on with your parent(s) is very important. And if you live in another city, paying visits or relying on others to keep you informed may be what you have to do. Nonetheless, a parent will show signs and it's up to the children to pick-up on what is happening.
There will be more on this topic in the near future with a guest contributor sharing her story, "Five Things Every Adult Child Needs to Know."
What is a CCRC Community?
CCRC is a Continuing Care Retirement Community.
This type of community will typically offer many levels
of care including independent and assisted living, rehabilitation services, skilled nursing, and memory care. As the resident needs more care, they are able to move within the community and not have to seek care elsewhere. Living in a CCRC will require an entrance fee or "buy-in". These communities can offer peace-of-mind for many seniors depending on their existing and future health care needs.
Independent and Assisted Living Communities.
There are many retirement communities that cater to the senior who can live independently in their own home environment. Independent living residents can also pay
out-of-pocket for additional care expenses they may need while remaining in their home.
Assisted living is for those who need additional help with routine daily tasks or medical care when needed. Assisted living apartments are typically studio-size without full kitchens. AL communities offer dining options in addition to other services and amenities.
WHAT IS DOWNSIZING?
- the act of reducing or eliminating the excess or abundance of objects and possessions within the living environment.
- the exchange of a larger dwelling for a smaller, more compact one.
What are some of the most common POSITIVES and NEGATIVES associated with downsizing?
Making and committing to the decision to begin the process of downsizing.
Sorting through and making decisions about the things in my house that take up space. Eliminating the excess.
Looking for a new home environment that meets my needs today and in the future.
Getting out from under the expense of maintaining my home.
Starting a new chapter in my life. Living a less complicated lifestyle.
Not knowing how to begin the downsizing process.
The time and energy involved with sorting through and paring down. Making decisions on what to keep.
Fear of getting rid of too much. What if I need it down the road?
Leaving my longtime home and starting over.
Emotions associated with decisions to be made.
I like to describe clutter as an abundance or excess of items that usually, over time, encroaches on and crowds areas of the living environment. It's the stuff that when you look at it, you know it doesn't belong where it's sitting. I equate clutter to chaos because it can cause distress and anxiety. Clutter grows if not dealt with but the good news is, it can be eliminated and replaced with orderly living.
What is a Chronic Keeper?
There is a difference between a Chronic Keeper and someone who hoards. I coined this term years ago in the early days of business as I began working with customers who held on to lots of different things but in an organized manner--things boxed up, labeled and put away for example. And typically there is usually minimal chaos caused by stuff in the home even if visible. A Chronic Keeper is able to let go of things especially when given time to process and consider the positives associated with letting go. They also understand that holding on to things they do not need is a liability in the long run. The test for a Chronic Keeper is allowing enough time to go through their belongings and make decisions. A plan of action is very important in order to stay on course.
Keep. Family/Friends. Donate. Sell. Trash/Recycle.
What to do with your stuff.
Keep. ALL the items in the home that you want to hold on to.
Family/Friends. EVERYTHING you would like to offer to family members or friends. Always ask, never assume that your items will be wanted and if they are declined, for whatever reason, graciously accept the decision.
Donate. THINGS that are in good to very good condition that can be donated to a charity. Donated items should be retail-floor-ready. Thrift stores should not be used as a place to dump unwanted things that cannot be sold or trash.
Sell. ITEMS that will be sold in a garage, moving, or estate sale. If you have enough contents to have an estate sale, contact the sale companies (interview more than one) well in advance for a walk-through. Sale companies can have sale bookings weeks and months in advance, so coordinating and selecting a company that will meet both your schedules is important. Insist on a well-defined contract. Thoroughly review the contract, there should be no questions prior to signing. (See more info. below.)
Trash/Recycle. THINGS that belong in a trash bag or dumpster OR recyclables. If you're cleaning out chemicals for example, you must dispose of these properly. If you live in the Greater Kansas City Metro go to: Recycle Spot.org for information on what and where to recycle items--a great resource!
Garage Sale. Moving Sale. Estate Sale. Auction.
After sorting through the items in the home, there may
be enough content remaining to have a sale. Listed below are the differences between the types of sales or auction. Garage and moving sales are managed by the resident and depending on the content, can require an enormous amount of time.
Garage Sale. This type of sale is typically made up of less costly items. Mostly, these sale items can be found in thrift stores for a few dollars. Although there may be higher-priced items in the sale, this type of sale will more than likely not be profitable. (Time vs. Profit)
Moving Sale. These sales consist of more items than what is found in a garage sale and the contents will bring higher prices. Moving sales are held to sell off items from inside and outside of the home--anything you don't want or can't use in your new home.
TIP: Garage and Moving Sales. Be flexible in your asking prices. Negotiate so both parties are happy.
The goal is to sell as much as possible and eliminate the excess. NO packing up or saving unsold items--take these items to a donation center.
Estate Sale. An estate sale is operated through a company specializing in estates. The content of the sale offers a large variety of saleable merchandise. Estate sale company employees are (should be) knowledgeable about a wide-range of items/categories and if not, they should offer researching. Payment for services is a percentage of the gross sales. Some companies may have additional fees to cover trash hauling, set-up of sale, and final cleanout of the home. It is wise to interview more than one sale company and to thoroughly review their contracts. There should be no questions as to responsibilities at signing of the contract.
Auction. On-site or virtual. In addition to auction companies, there are many estate sale companies that now offer virtual auctions. Virtual auctions run for several days. In-person auctions are over in a matter of hours. Percentage of gross sales will apply, in addition to other possible fees.
Selling our home.
The real estate market has been on fire for a couple of years with inventory of houses low and buyer demand high. Sellers are, for the most part, selling their properties quickly so it's important to have a plan firmly in place prior to listing your home on the market. Below are a few questions that could affect your selling plan.
Are there needed repairs? If so, how long will they take and how much will they cost?
Is there excess in the home that needs eliminated?
Do I need to have a sale?
Will staging the home help with buyer appeal?
Should I pack up what I'm keeping and store it (de-cluttering and organizing)?
Once your plan is decided, it's time to set up appointments with real estate agents (we recommend interviewing three) to discuss your home and your time line. Remember the importance of the business relationship--the right real estate agent will draw on their experience and knowledge and walk you through the selling process to closing.
Did you know? FUN FACTS!
There are 55 million seniors (65+) in the U.S. (2020 Census).
The state with the highest senior population is Maine.
More than 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65-years-old every day.
Recent studies show that more than half of U.S. seniors are active online.
Older adults aged 85 and up are the fastest growing age group in the country.
There are more than 55,000 seniors over age 100, and by 2050 the number of Centenarians is expected to top 600,000.
More than 15 million older adults are formally recognized volunteers. Nearly half of all seniors volunteer in some capacity.
There are more than 11,400 senior centers across the country that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. The average age of a senior center participant is 75.
A sense of purpose, increased self-worth, and better physical and mental health are three significant benefits of social connection for seniors.
The month of May is officially designated National Older Americans Month which was established under President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
We're looking forward to featuring guest contributors to the site. These contributors will be aligned with the Senior Market and have valuable information to share with our visitors.
Do you have a life story you would like to share? We're voice recording the stories of older adults and have been listening to some amazing life events. We will be compiling and editing stories free of charge throughout 2022. These edited stories can be shared with family members as keepsakes in addition to, by-permission-use in research/marketing by Downsizing Simplified. You are an interesting older adult who has lived a long life, contact us to share your story--we'd love to talk! Contact
We will be adding a page that highlights the creativity of our Senior site visitors. This page is under development but will feature writing, fine art, photography, handwork, built objects, oral recordings (storytelling, poetry, song) and more. We'd love to hear from you. To share your creativity, contact us for more information at: Contact
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