Downsize to rightsize your life
The onerous task of downsizing and sorting through a lifetime of ‘stuff’ is a major reason why seniors put off moving to more suitable accommodation to match their needs as they age.
Decluttering and downsizing can be a stressful and emotional process. It’s something that can’t be rushed… look at it as a marathon not a sprint.
Before you really launch into downsizing, walk through your home and consider what furniture you no longer want or need in your new life. Have a clear vision of your new apartment and lifestyle.
Have a floor plan of your retirement village apartment to know exactly how much space you have and measure large furniture to ensure it fits. A vital part of downsizing is doing a review of your possessions and matching it to your new space.
Start decluttering one room at a time, if that’s too hard to contemplate then begin with a drawer or a cupboard. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the task or you’ll just give up.
The aim is to simplify your life and pare down those years of accumulated belongings. However, you don’t need to get rid of all your possessions – keep your favourite things that hold memories, those items you love to have around and enjoy using.
If you think about all the things you actually use in your home on a daily or regular basis it will only amount to a fraction of the thousands of items you own.
Begin in the areas of the house you don’t use such as spare bedrooms. In this way it won’t be so disruptive and the things in these rooms are unlikely to be missed. If items are being passed on to family members use coloured post-it notes to identify the recipients. Box or bag items for charity and have another pile for the rubbish bin each week.
Charities often have regular collection days in your suburb so phone them to find out when they can collect. When the pile for donation is large enough to justify a collection call the charity to keep the flow of your unwanted items heading out the door. Charities such as Lifeline are keen to receive books and will gladly collect them for their major annual fundraiser, the Bookfest.
Opportunities to sell some unwanted items during the downsizing process will provide a welcome upsizing of your bank account.
You might be sorting through several generations of possessions and this can be a burden if you have inherited items that a grandparent or parent had placed great value in. Even if you don’t share their value or sentimentality for the item you will probably still feel a duty to find it a good home.
When passing on heirlooms provide a note to the recipient with a little about its history. Tell the story of who owned it, when and where the item was used. An object comes to life when connected to a story or a person. Another family member may treasure that heirloom you don’t really connect with.
Joan and Robert are survivors of the downsizing process and now live happily with fewer possessions and less clutter. The couple still live in the area they love after moving from their large old Queenslander where they had resided for 30 years to their new apartment in an Aura Holdings’ retirement community.
Joan and Robert Troedson
Joan says downsizing had been a challenge but as soon as they decided to move she got busy with cut outs on the floor plan and quickly worked out what furniture would fit in their new home.
She says parting with paintings was the hardest part of the downsizing process but she knew that most wouldn’t suit the modern styling of their apartment.
The shed was another challenge as it contained Robert’s tools and many that had belonged to Joan’s father and grandfather. “After the family decided what they wanted, the rest of the tools were sent to the grandchildren’s school fete where they were snapped up at the trash and treasure stall. We were able to donate them to a good cause,’’ she says.
Joan says she has no regrets about parting with any long-held possessions and admits even more items were disposed of after the move. ‘‘Once I got here and was filling the kitchen cupboards I decided if it didn’t fit, it had to go. But it’s an ongoing job.’’
One treasured item Joan kept was her mother’s extendable dining table that she matched with the couple’s own chairs. “The table has extra sentimental value because my father restored it. The things that meant the most and would fit, we were able to keep.’’
But if the task of downsizing and decluttering becomes too overwhelming there’s help available. Professionals like Margaret Warren of Inspired Outcomes can assist through the downsizing process to make your move as easy as possible.
Margaret offers a complete service to manage, sort and move a lifetime’s collection of possessions.
“Sometimes the process of moving can be overwhelming and gets put off or cancelled because if just seems all too hard,’’ Margaret says. “We can take the stress and worry out of the equation by organising everything from appointing an agent to sell the family home, decluttering, work out what will fit in the new apartment, dispose of or sell the superfluous items.’’
Margaret can drive clients to inspect retirement villages, then pack up all they are taking, organise the transportation and unpack everything, even making the beds in the new apartment.
Preparing for the new phase of your life should fill you with excitement, not dread. Without the weight of all that unnecessary clutter you will feel relief and soon you’ll be revelling in your new lifestyle and won’t miss all those things – in fact you’ll probably wish you’d downsized years earlier!
The friendly village manager at The Avenue Maroochydore can provide you with advice and assistance to make your move as smooth as possible.