We all love our stuff and many residents of Irvine and elsewhere have spent our whole lives acquiring it all. So when family members or in-home caregivers begin to encourage us to consider downsizing, it isn’t always something we like to hear.
The staff at Accredited Home Care is fully aware of the challenges of getting clients to part with some of their possessions for whatever reason, so we’re always eager to share our experiences and help people learn why it can be a good idea to begin the process.
To start with, everyone understands parting with anything can be emotional. After all, some possessions have become important parts of our lives.
Some are attached to special memories, such as a favorite possession of a departed family member or a treasured gift from a loved one decades ago. Many items have stories that are fun to remember and enjoy, especially at a time when regular pick-me-ups are especially appreciated.
Even items that aren’t necessarily sentimental may still have some comfort attached to them, like a favorite comfy couch or recliner that has been in the living room for years.
It’s likely, when pressed to start looking for items that can be disposed of, people will probably find some stuff that can be parted with fairly easily. But as pressure mounts to get rid of more, that’s often when people say “I can’t do this” and stop the whole thing.
In the spirit of Simplify Your Life Week, which takes place the first week of August, consider some of these strategies.
It doesn’t mean you’re moving immediately
Downsizing can often be a good idea, whether it’s to a smaller place, an apartment, with a friend or family member or even a retirement community. Or even if you’re not ready to move, consider at least reducing some of your items. If there’s no ‘ticking clock’ of a need to relocate quickly, it can allow more time to calmly go through possessions and put a plan together. Consider focusing on one room a week or a closet each day. That way you’ll be more prepared when there is a more urgent need to move.
It’s easier now than later
If you’re still in your home living independently, it’s a perfect opportunity to start the process of getting rid of things. That way, you or your family members won’t have to rush and dispose of a lot at once if something changes with your health.
For instance, if you ever are required to relocate to an assisted living facility, you likely will have less room for your personal items and you or others often may have to move fast due to changing health conditions. They may not know what some items mean to you in their effort to relocate you quickly.
Worse, if you pass away without completing or at least putting a dent in the down-sizing process, your loved ones will also be faced with the task of figuring out what to do with all your stuff. This can lead to tension over who gets what or what to do with everything. Although a will may lay out terms for larger-value items and overall inheritance, family members may end up fighting over smaller but meaningful items to them that may not be specified such as knickknacks. But if you take control, you can decide what will happen to your items.
Make special gifts
Rather than letting your heirs, your estate attorney or even estate sale guests decide what to do with your goods, you can present certain special to loved ones and tell them why they are deserving of them. For instance, a grandchild who loves golf may enjoy receiving your departed spouse’s set of golf clubs. This way they’ll know the gift is more meaningful than an ordinary set of clubs, you’ll know they’ll be going to a good home where they’ll be taken care of, and you’ll have them out of your garage.
If you don’t want to make a formal presentation out of it, you can consider writing down the story of certain items, which can make the keepsake even more special. It also has the added benefit of providing a written statement that you really wanted this gift to be given.
You’ll help others
Donating unused/unneeded items can benefit people in your community more than you. For instance, old clothes in good shape that you haven’t worn in years can be donated to a local charity or shelter. The same can be true for household goods, office supplies or sporting equipment.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed or losing focus, it helps to have someone trusted assist in the process of keeping, storing, giving away or disposing. There are also professional organizational firms that specialize in this sort of process.
There are also organizations that help seniors and their family members with moving. The National Association of Senior Move Managers is a country-wide organization that is designed to help families through the difficult downsizing process. Consider contacting someone in your area to get basic information, even if a move isn’t planned in the short-term. Family members will appreciate that you have conducted this research and found a recommended mover when a move is necessary.
Contact Accredited Home Care for more assistance in the down-sizing process.