Aging in Place: A Legacy of Less

All my possessions for a moment of time.

~Elizabeth I


Aging in Place

I’ll make this brief, for the last two weeks (in the midst of a busy life) I’ve been de-cluttering the home I grew up in. My elderly folks, which consisted of my mother, her brother, and sister (my uncle and aunt), have been for the last 50 years or so, filling up a small house with things. For my entire life the family joke was that I was going to be left with garage…Well, that time has come. And it’s not just the garage it’s all the other rooms as well.  

It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t gone through the experience of untangling the lives of our elderly loved ones and all their lifetime of accumulations–and to do it in a brief window of time. The task is daunting in that the physical aspects of laying hands on a Sisyphean array of items that feels like stringing beads without a knot on the other end would be enough, but many are emotionally charged with meaning and sentiment. And there is that WHO GETS WHAT aspect to toss into the mix. This is not for the faint of heart.

Possession Paralysis!

Earlier in life, perhaps it matters less that people can’t park in their garages or close their closet doors. But when Dr. Ekerdt asked respondents how reluctant they felt about moving, considering the effort required to transfer or dispose of their belongings, he found that 48 percent felt “very reluctant” to move and another 30 percent were “somewhat reluctant.”

That adds up to more than three-quarters of people over 60 feeling trapped, to some degree, by stuff.

I found myself wondering whether some of the widespread insistence on aging in place reflects a weary assessment of how hard it would be to pack up and age anywhere else.

-Paula Span

DeCluttering is Labor Intensive

For now, most of work-life is on hold, I’m living on the margins of my schedule due to the labor-intensity of dealing with all the stuff. Like most senior care, there are mixed emotions. I want to be there for them–as they were for me. However, downsizing seniors comes with an emotional price tag for all parties involved.

My plea in this brief post is to boomers and seniors who are “over-provisioned” to please self-downsize–before it’s a crisis and left to loved ones. It will be one of your greatest gifts to leave–a legacy of less.

I’ve gotta run…