Downsizing

At some point after late middle age most adults begin re-evaluating the importance of the “things” they have acquired throughout their lives. They will most likely also be re-assessing their living space requirements and the nature and importance of their relationships. Many will want to downsize their lives in these aspects. This will require planning.

One may undertake a number of approaches to reducing the material possessions which are no longer needed or wanted. Family should generally be given first option to these things. In my own case I have come to realize, however, that, like others I know, someone’s prized collections of things or even family nostalgia may be of little interest to their children. In this event, there are many organizations such as The Salvation Army which are happy to accept a large majority of these items. The main thing is building the will to just let go.

Reducing living space can be more complicated, and is not really an option for many. Those individuals who have neither the means nor the desire to relocate to retirement communities will have to age in place unless they are willing to live with their children or other family members, something many don’t want to do. One might then decide to reduce the amount of space being utilized within one’s current residence by closing off unused rooms or reconfiguring the space actually needed. One might also opt to share the residence and the costs of its maintenance with a willing friend or relative.

Finally, as to re-assessing relationships, I have observed that most seniors in late life have come to value old, good friends more than other relationships, even family. The coterie of “casual” friends has been reduced and socializing in groups as well as entertaining have become less important. It is critical then for seniors to maintain, however they can, the relationships with the people who really matter to them.