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Consider downsizing as a means of simplifying your lifestyle

03 March 2012
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times – March 2012

As I prepare for my second downsize in four years, I look around my condo and am shocked by the amount of stuff that surrounds me.

I thought I did a decent job of decluttering when I moved to a two-bedroom condo from a three-storey townhouse. I made a pact with myself to store memories in my heart without hanging on to items that needed a place to be stored. Lo and behold, I am finding letters and knickknacks that have been hidden away for four years.

Armed with an e-reader and digital camera, I no longer need tons of shelving for books and photo albums. I have kept one miniature shoe to remind me of the full collection. Clothes not worn for two years will be donated. With each box that leaves my life, I feel lighter and freer. My new home will have empty spaces surrounded by possessions that I love but also serve a purpose.

While I love the excitement, the process of moving and packing is overwhelming and exhausting. I have hired someone to conduct a moving sale for me, a decorator to help with planning my new space and someone to assist with heavy packing so I don’t spend my life savings on osteopathy for my fragile back.

I have been accused by clients of failing to understand their refusal to move. Some will admit they feel their quality of life would improve in a residence with social activity, access to care assistance, regular meals and no daily chores.

But they explain that they feel comfortable in their home. I offer the assistance of individuals who specialize in helping seniors downsize, sort through their possessions, sell what they no longer need and help plan their new home.

Sometimes the senior still refuses to make the move. Excuses range from: the task is too great at their age; they don’t want to leave the home they have lived in for decades; they feel their memories are tied with their home; they see what they have collected over their lifetimes and are unable to imagine life without them. I get it, I really do. And as long as someone is able to stay in their home safely, there is no argument.

I tell them to look at their large vase with the blue and yellow butterflies and assure them that neither their children nor their grandchildren will want it. They have heard this message from their loved ones but still refuse to believe it.

I hope my daughter appreciates my downsizing, ridding my life of possessions that will one day become her heavy burden to deal with (hopefully not for a very long time). Maybe one day I will be like George Clooney in the movie Up In the Air, living in a stark apartment with no personal possessions other than what I can carry in a suitcase. Actually, I hope not!

But the idea of fewer possessions and simplifying my lifestyle makes me feel free to travel and engage in other activities. My next article will be written from my smaller condo. Wish me luck!

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Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775