Aging in Place, Downsizing and Decluttering: Natural Partners

aging in place photo

Aging in place can sometimes be achieved by fairly simple adaptations.

It’s easy to confuse the terms “downsizing the home” and decluttering it. Of course these two activities are often closely related, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Downsizing usually implies moving from a larger place to a smaller one:  decluttering simply means getting rid of an excess of “stuff.”

For some people a combination of dread of decluttering and fear of being forced to move out of a beloved home can be just two more reasons to postpone clearing away the clutter accumulated over a period of  years. If there’s too much stuff to move, then maybe we won’t ever have to move, right?

Unfortunately, denial doesn’t work any better in this area of life than it does in most others. When the time comes to move out of a beloved home, denial won’t help. And procrastination over the years just makes the inevitable more difficult if and when the time finally comes.

But what about those who elect to stay in their homes as they continue to age? Do they need to engage in downsizing–or decluttering–also?

According to Rachel Adelson, author of Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety, and Style, “It takes time for people to make the psychological shift away from seeing themselves as productive consumers of ‘stuff,’ in that near-constant acquisition mode of midlife – things for the kids, things for the house, things to treat themselves, expensive hobby equipment and tools, etc. Clutter may reinforce the sense that they’re still busy and active and in the middle of things, when the reality is that things have changed, and now their ‘stuff’ is obscuring the emerging requirement to make the home safer and more supportive of their changing needs.” Adelson’s book helps people focus on those changing needs, and shows how to go about providing for them simply and economically at home. Many of those adjustments require opening up additional space, to help people move more freely and sometimes to allow for the use of specialized furniture or equipment. That’s where decluttering can actually help people stay in their homes longer, rather than being a prelude to a move out of those homes.

Decluttering the home can also open a wider range of options for those who want to remain independent as they grow older. While the unspoken fear among many who resist moving out of the homes they’ve been in for a long time is that they will end up in assisted living or a nursing home, new options, such as senior villages, that didn’t exist in the past are flourishing as boomers and their parents swell the ranks of the retired. Our book has helpful tips for how to get started with this process–and how to get rid of much of the “stuff” while keeping precious memories.

We’ll be writing more about this topic in future posts…stay tuned!

For now, suffice it to say–decluttering the home and staying in it are NOT enemies–on the contrary, they are natural partners!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor, writing coach, travel blogger, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.




2 Responses

  1. For those with too much stuff in too small a space, decluttering IS THE ANSWER for sure!

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: downsizing the home > Subject: [New post] Aging in Place, Downsizing and Decluttering: Natural Partners > Date: April 25, 2014 10:44:29 AM EDT > To: > Reply-To: downsizing the home > >

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