Senior Downsizing – Part 1 of 3

My appreciation goes to Alison Starkey, Assistant Manager of Take Care Move Assistance, Lake Oswego, Oregon, who gave me permission to post portions of her article: “The Zen of Senior Downsizing,” which I will do in 3 parts.   Check out the website:    Email:  [email protected]

Are you or someone you know, such as a parent, thinking of moving to a smaller home or retirement community?  This is called senior downsizing and seems to be all the rage as more people are getting older (every day 10,000 people in the United States turns 65!).  For many it is a once in a lifetime experience that may seem overwhelming.  But with some planning and support it can also be very rewarding as well as freeing.

Much of what is entailed with senior downsizing is simply time, work and logistics.  Well, and a good dose of objectivity as you go through your family things.  It’s much like trying to see the “forest for the trees.”  Things can get blurred and bogged down at times as you touch all the things that made up your household and life for so many years.

My mother lived in her lovely home outside of Boston, Massachusetts for over forty three years.  It’s where we all grew up together.  My father passed away in 2001 and Mom always said she was going to go out feet first from this home.  She loved it that much.  But things evolved and last year she decided that she was ready and looking forward to moving into a one bedroom apartment at a retirement community where many of her friends had moved over the years.

From top to bottom we were looking to shrink her living space from 15 to 3 rooms.  This included attic and basement but NOT the closets, cupboards and bathrooms.  Together my mother, sister, brother and I had to figure out where to start, who to hire and what we could do on our own; also determine what to get rid of, what to take to her new home and what she wanted us to take for ourselves.

With family members spread around the United States, we had to figure out the logistics to get this project underway and completed in a reasonable period of time.  Off and on over the next seven months the four of us were amazed to realize that collectively we had clocked over 1,000 hours.  That does not include the phone calls, emails, flights and drives to and from New England.

Despite all this, we felt lucky that we had the time to do much of this ourselves.  Many families do not have that option due to work obligations (my sister and I were working part time so were flexible), health and or mobility restrictions, limited vacation time, financial resources and commitments within their own families and communities.

For me, over those seven months I became passionate by what I learned about downsizing a loved one that after this project was completed, I joined a local company right here in the Portland area that specializes in the various stages of senior move management.  How great is that?

NEXT:  Part 2 – What we learned as a family

“Speak kind words and you will hear kind echoes”  Author unknown