The Evolution Into Downsizing
My career is to advocate, find resources, referrals, and support individuals whose life has suddenly changed due to dynamics of aging. Lately, the time has come to realize that the next journey of life is to morph into a world of changes. This ah ha moment came to me when I had a recent dental visit. My dentist and I have been friends since high school, I’ve know his staff for years, and as I sat in the chair I reminded him that his 65 birthday was approaching. As a Care Manager always on alert, I told him to make sure to sign up for Medicare. We reminisced about those summer days as teenagers, when the motto was “never trust anyone over 30”. Did he really believe he would live to 65 years old? We both agreed – no. Yet, here we are and it happened so fast. In the coming weeks after my appointment, I had several other ah ha moments, as close friends are also morphing in the world of changes.
Recently, I observed friends relocate from California to Washington to be closer to family. I listened to her tales of woe as she downsized her life and home to the most valuable possessions that would accompany them to Washington. As her husband had a recent stroke, she enlisted the help of a mover who helped her pack the kitchen items. Had she known how much a relief that was she told me “just pay the fee and have them pack everything.” When the day came to leave, she gave me a great big hug and said the experience of downsizing and moving can really test a marriage and if you survive you can survive anything.
Another friend also downsized and moved to Southern California. She confirmed what I was learning, downsizing is now a seminar of how to not experience stress overload. She told me it is a 3-part event. I put her valuable information to use and told my husband we would begin to go through our clutter and donate. Our first forage into this unknown started the “cold war” and I understood that this adventure needs to consist of “baby steps.”
The evolution into downsizing is a multi-faceted progression. The emotions of change, unknown, feelings of overwhelm, and struggle are just a few of what happens in this endeavor. Some individuals will experience a cathartic cleansing, while others have a sense of a longing and experience this process as a challenging undertaking. Whatever path one chooses to take perseverance and patience is the enterprise of downsizing.
Experts agree, start easy. One can choose a “3-step process” or “piles” of objectives and goals. The questions should include necessity, how often used, sentimental, financial significance, and does it fit in a smaller environment. Then the next concept is what to do with those items not staying. In earlier generations, it was an honor to inherit family heirlooms or hand-downs. Now the younger generations don’t want “old items.” Suggestion, consider asking family what they would want or could sell for you and otherwise consider donation or toss. As you work from room-to-room, go slow, make your piles or 3-step process, but take your time. Don’t rush. Give yourself plenty of time, start now, you don’t want to wait until “life happens” and it becomes an emergency.
Or you can take my husband’s philosophy: if you can’t decide, take it with you. If it doesn’t fit, you can acquit and release. Whatever the decision, don’t be afraid to ask for help — there are specialists in this field and it might be well worth the investment.
Deon, a Certified Care Manager, has a Master’s Degree in Gerontology from San Francisco State University, with an emphasis in care management. She is an adjunct Professor in the Gerontology Department at Sacramento State University, and has served as Commissioner for the Adult & Aging Commission of Sacramento County.
Deon’s passion for care management grew from a commitment to advocate and support older adults as well as the disabled and other vulnerable populations. She is a Care Manager Certified member of the Aging Life Care Association™. She brings to the team a wealth of knowledge about POLST, Parkinson’s disease, VA benefits, and entitlement and waiver programs.