Some older people begin to look at downsizing for a variety of reasons. One is the increasing need to cut expenses with increasing medical needs combined with the current economic pressures. A clear look at the living space you are in may show some less used areas. Maybe the extra bedrooms are now collecting dust. Or the lawn may have become a bit of a burden, both financially and physically.
A yard sale can generate money to cover moving expenses. In addition, saying goodbye to items no longer in service via donations or a garage sale can help the senior make emotional peace with the act of letting go. This may also be a great time to pass items on to grandchildren or others who could use and appreciate something you no longer need or use.
Reducing the square footage can save money in utility bills for heating and cooling. Downsizing to a more streamlined living area can increase both safety and enjoyment, an unexpected bonus for some. With less possessions crowding the living space, moving around in daily living activities becomes both safer and more efficient. Also, with less stuff to take care of the senior may have more opportunity to enjoy the things which surround him or her. In addition, the monthly housing expense will be less, giving more space in the monthly budget.
Downsizing of Time and Schedules To Reduce Stress
Sometimes an older person realizes that life is just spread too thin. It may be time to look honestly at where current interests lie. If a senior notices his or her focus has gone mostly in certain directions, then it may be appropriate to weed out some of the other activities which can drain energy without the payoff of enjoyment they used to offer.
Just the act of making a decision to limit one’s efforts in a more focused direction can put a stop to a huge load of stress. Some seniors benefit from making a list of current activities, then taking a critical look at each one to decide where to put one’s future efforts and attention.
Even the process of downsizing can bring its own stress. Consider pacing yourself to give time for mental processing of each step along the way. Celebrate small accomplishments before moving on to the next goal. Enlist the help of family and friends at church or in your community as you simplify your life. Reach out to any listening ear. Having someone to bounce ideas off of helps in deciding what to do next, and provides comfort and encouragement along the way. This can bring new ideas into the mix and will give the bonus of being heard.
Downsizing of Stuff Can Update Emotions by Making Decisions
It is so easy to let possessions get out of control. Yet the cause can often be traced to avoiding, or just not getting around to, regular care and feeding of one’s emotions. Stuff can be reduced by making one decision at a time. For some older people limited mobility or caregiver duties indicate the need for a smaller space, or at least simplifying the living space by reducing clutter.
The whole goal doesn’t have to be accomplished at once. It can be real progress to work on one area. There may be a guest room or closet where stuff has accumulated. Give particular attention to areas where much time is spent to increase safety and enjoyment of these spaces. Lay out several items but not too many. Then make one decision at a time. Allow time for mental and emotional processing.
Given adequate time, a good choice will rise to the surface of your mind. It may be taking a picture of it and donating or passing it on to a relative or friend. Or it could find its way to the garage for a future yard sale. A word of caution: once an object has been sorted, resist the urge to rethink it. Just move on to the next thing in line or take a break and then move on.
When seniors go through the process of downsizing, they can find they save money, reduce stress, and update their emotional lives by making needed decisions. Seniors may find themselves with a deadline, thus efficiency becomes important. However, much of the time it is a process which can take a number of months or even a year or two to accomplish. Choosing it as an ongoing project rather than waiting for the right time is quite effective. Look around your living space and find a starting point for your process of downsizing. You’ll be glad you did!