Anyone who has spent an extended period of time in temporary living quarters of limited size— an "efficiency" apartment, for instance, necessitated by a temporary work assignment or an extended vacation on a boat or RV— knows the value of organized storage. The old adage of "a place for everything, and everything in its place" rings loud and very true.
If a residence change looms large in senior life, now may be the time to "shape up" and pare down your possessions.
Downsizing personal living space, necessitated by a move to a senior living community, can be a daunting prospect, but it may also be the catalyst for embarking on a new era of freedom from unnecessary possessions and stripping down to the essentials.
Contemplating a downsize is often the most difficult part of the job.
If there is no need to do it swiftly, take the time to consider how you really live. Make multiple lists: "Things I Love, Things I Cannot Live Without, Things I Want, Things I Want to Give Away, Things To Sell." Come up with your own categories and then start sorting your belongings.
Big boxes can work wonders as you tackle cupboards, closets and storage units.
As you survey your stuff, plan to do without anything you have not worn or used in the last year. Then, make another pass at what you have kept and dispose of anything you don't "love." You'll be surprised how manageable your wardrobe and your collections have become. You'll also be encouraged by the simplicity of the decision-making.
Assessing Your Needs
As you contemplate a simpler lifestyle, you should greet the process with a sense of adventure. If you have a kitchen full of serving dishes and collected paraphernalia, but you seldom entertain, you should be able to easily eliminate. Hold a sale or donate items to a favorite charity or local thrift shop. It's a good feeling to know that your items will enjoy new purpose in another household.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that friends or family will treasure specific items in the same manner you have. And don't let your feelings be hurt if your granddaughter doesn't jump at the chance to acquire "Grandma's aprons" or old family salt and pepper shakers. Also try not to be disappointed if you are told that your heirloom china has little value or appeal. Times change, as do styles.
Keep those things you cannot live without. A strong emotional attachment is at least as important a reason to keep an item as its utilitarian purpose is. Keep things that make you smile. Keep those things that remind you of the good things in your now "senior life."
Plan to Use Everything
As you sort through your belongings, you will inevitably be tempted to keep something "because it's too good to get rid of." It's at this point that you must be strong. If you don't have an emotional attachment or a regular use for it, you don't have a need for it. No matter how good it is. Period. End of discussion.
You'll be happy in your new surroundings if you can look around and see only what you cherish in your view. You'll be happy with your newfound ability to find things easily and stow all your belongings properly.
You'll also be delighted that you have an opportunity to meet new people, enjoy new experiences, explore new interests and indulge yourself in any manner you please as you embark on this phase of your senior life experience.
Once you unpack and get organized in your new home, you'll want to stay that way. Professional organizer Lorie Marrero offers some helpful tips. But, if you did your pre-move homework right, you'll likely find it easy to keep your home shipshape and functional. It can be exhilarating!