The Beauty of Letting Go: A Downsizing Guide for Seniors
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Author: Michael Longsdon (ElderFreedom.net)
As we age, we go through unavoidable losses, such as loss of job, health, independence, and loss of loved ones. As we lose these "pieces of us," we unknowingly allow our possessions to take on new meaning. What were once mere “things” quickly become a sense of comfort, love, and identity. For senior citizens especially, the thought of getting rid of these things can conjure up feelings of stress, depression, and pain. However, detaching and downsizing doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, purging oneself of "too much" can be rewarding and positively life-changing. If you have an aging loved one or if you are thinking about downsizing yourself, read on — this practical guide will point you in the right direction.
Easy Steps to Downsizing
• Recognize the benefits: Like everything else that requires hard work and change, one must first recognize the benefits to be successful. And for downsizing, there are many. Letting go of gathered possessions can help relieve stress and increase your quality of life. And of course, less stuff usually means that there will be less clutter and less cleaning to do, opening the door for a more peaceful and organized atmosphere. Also, moving into smaller dwellings can help save you money on living expenses.
• Enlist help: As tempting as it might be to jump in by yourself, you will be more successful if you enlist the help of trusted family and friends. Your team can help you sort through your essentials and make the right decisions.
• One day at a time: Unless you are working against time, this purging process doesn’t need to be rushed. You and your team can work in one room at a time, carefully sorting through the items with bags and boxes in hand. You will have to determine which items are your needs; these are the items you will keep. For a lot of seniors, this can be the most emotional and time-consuming aspect of downsizing, therefore, you need to exude patience with yourself (or your aging loved ones). You should create two piles; one pile will be for items that you need and the other will be for items that you don’t. All your essentials go into the needs pile and everything else will go into the purge pile. You don’t have to get rid of everything in your purge pile, but make an effort to get rid of items that someone else will get more use or appreciation from.
• Give legacy gifts now: Although legacy gifts are traditionally given after the senior passes, there are no rules in saying that they can’t be given while you are still living. In addition to aiding in the downsizing process, the top benefit of giving legacy gifts now is being able to see your loved ones enjoy the items that hold so much sentimental value. Just make sure you don’t give away anything you truly can’t bear to part with!
• Selling your valuables: Recouping some money that you spent on your possessions over the years is a huge reward in downsizing. Everything that still functions can be sold, whether it’s clothing, furniture, tools, or jewelry. You can host multiple yard sales and post items for sale online and in the newspaper. Do not keep the items that didn’t sell. Instead, you should either donate, recycle or give them away.
• Make the move: Safety and health care are two major concerns when it comes to seniors, which is why making the move to a respected retirement community is a top option for downsizing. Giving up the big family home won’t ever be easy, but moving where health care and safety are priorities will make it easier. Plus, moving into a community with other seniors can help you rediscover your identity and keep you active while encouraging relationships and social interaction to form.
As we get older, the term "less is more" should become an affirmation to live by. It's so easy to become attached to relics and possessions because we often associate them with love and positive memories. However, keeping memories alive on the inside is far more valuable than holding onto things. There is much beauty and freedom in letting go.
Author: Michael Longsdon (ElderFreedom.net)
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