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Downsizing is Actually Lighten-ing!

Kathi Paullin teams up with her mom to downsize.

We hear the term “downsizing,” and it has a negative feel. We think of it as losing items which we treasured for years.

But when we think of it is as LIGHTEN-ING the load of things that weigh us down, the word actually has a positive connotation. We ease the stress of caring for so many material things, allowing ourselves to focus on enjoying our future, such as expanding our social network of new friends and fun activities. 

By choosing the things which we really need and use, we keep what brings us happiness and service. And we allow others to enjoy their use in the future.

Helping My Mom with Downsizing

I realized this as I helped my 92-year old mother prepare for a move to Willow Brook Christian Village, a senior living community in Delaware, Ohio.  My mother has lived in a large house for 54 years and raised her family there. Now she would be moving into a duplex, so we needed to sort through a lifetime of belongings.

As we worked together, my mother gradually came to terms with this whole concept of lighten-ing her load. It wasn’t easy, but we found a system that worked for us and may help you. 

5 Tips for Lighten-ing Your Load:

  • Start early, focusing on one area at a time. Think about quality over quantity.
    • Is it necessary? Do I really want or need it? Is it used regularly?
    • Is there sentimental value? Is it of significant financial value?
    • Will it fit into my next home?
    • Would a family member, friend or organization appreciate and use it?

  • Save your memories and photos. Ask a grandchild or friend to preserve them onto media for safe-keeping or into scrapbooks and albums.

  • Donate items to:
    • Homeless and domestic violence centers and churches
    • Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Goodwill and Veterans Associations
    • Local libraries, schools and colleges 
    • Office supply stores (they often take old computers and electronics)
    • Local solid waste/recycling departments
    • Police stations and/or pharmacies willing to safely dispose of old medications

  • Ask for help!  Family and friends can help, and you also may want to consider hiring a senior move manager. These trained professionals come to your home and help you figure out what to take and what to release. Services also can include cleaning, waste removal, shopping, helping prepare the home to be sold and more.  This is the link to the National Association of Senior Move Managers:

  • Adopt a positive attitude.  Go into your new home with a good attitude. Look at your move as a way to make new friends, shed the responsibilities of home maintenance and explore new avenues that will make this phase of your life journey a happy and productive one.

Mom’s Experience

Recently, my mother went through her massive quilt collection, doling them out to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Many stories were told.  Mom is happy knowing those lovingly handcrafted items will be long treasured by those receiving them. 

As my mother has downsized, she is finding that time is opening up. We are both looking forward to her move to a senior living community, where she will still live independently but will have access to social activities and healthcare services. Her move will allow us to do more fun things together rather than dusting furniture, fixing appliances and organizing closets.  Lighten-ing our loads has illuminated a path to joy for both of us.

By Kathi Snyder Paullin, senior living specialist at Willow Brook Christian Communities in Delaware, Ohio.

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