There are degrees of downsizing, depending on the situation at hand. It’s not age related at all. Anyone might decide to eliminate some of their belongings for a variety of reasons. We do, however, connect downsizing to our elders.
Desire to live more simply
This can be divided further: those who decide they have too much “stuff” and wish to minimize their material goods for spiritual reasons, to others who can’t find things they need on a regular basis.
For the minimalists, the purging is cathartic and welcomed. It’s part of a journey to a more peaceful place within themselves, unfettered by anything extra in their lives. They prefer the sleekness of a home with almost nothing in sight.
Others who are somewhat disorganized might discover that they’re purchasing the same things over and over again because they can’t find the original or any of its replacements. This usually happens with kitchen utensils (paring knives, peelers), small tools (hammer, screwdriver) or writing implements (pens, pencils). In an effort to reduce spending extra for things already owned, they undertake downsizing to find such items and know where they are in future.
Still others realize they’re feeling smothered by their “stuff” and eliminate as much as they can to simplify their lives to concentrate on what’s more important to them (friends, family, studies, hobbies, travel, etc.).
Move to a smaller home
This is what usually comes to mind when we think downsizing. The new home, condo or apartment is smaller therefore what will fit into it is less than what fits into the larger home. In this case, quite a lot must be offloaded. It’s important to work with the size of the new place while making decisions
By working with a floor plan of the new place, we can decide more easily what will fit and how to arrange the furniture there before moving in.
A smaller home might bring with it a lifestyle change as well. We might realize we won’t be doing as much entertaining, for example, so can let go of serving dishes and other items that were previously used to host large numbers of people.
The move might be into an even smaller space—assisted living. In this case, even less of what was in the original home can be brought along. Depending on the size, there may be only a couple of rooms, or maybe even just a single room.
Deciding what to bring can be very emotional and difficult, so plenty of time must be allowed for that decision-making. And the situation needs to be approached with sensitively. Only the most important items will make the cut here.
Need to enter a care facility
While the process we’ve discussed above seems to be a step-by-step one, it’s not necessarily that way. Health issues, for example, may intervene, necessitating a jump from the original family home to full care. At this point, the downsizing may not be a choice, and what happens to your belongings may not be within your control.
In such a facility, what can be brought along is minimal due to the small space there and maybe equipment that needs some of that space. Possibly a few pieces of furniture, but maybe not, depending on the facility.
This is a major lifestyle change, so wardrobe needs will differ a great deal. It’s important for us to be aware of this so appropriate clothes are moved along with the individual.
Much to consider
It might be a good idea to begin thinking about downsizing yourself now, well before it becomes necessary. If you can even begin to pass along some of your belongings, when the time comes to actually move to a smaller place, you’ll already be partly ready.
You might want to check out the options in your geographic area in the next little while to understand what kind of places are available when the time comes. You might even have your name added to waiting lists now so you have the option to accept the accommodation offer when it comes up. In some places, there are long wait lists, as much as 10 years.
When will you begin to look toward your future? Plan now how you will deal with all this when your turn comes. And feel free to share your journey in the comments space below?
© 2013 Moreen Torpy
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Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See www.GoForwardDownsize.com for more about the book including where to purchase it, and www.decluttercoach.ca to learn about her organizing services and other books.