Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Thoughts on Downsizing

Downsizing. Whether it's when the kids leave home, when we need to relocate because of health issues or any time in between, just about everyone at some point or another in their lives will have to consider how best to decrease their possessions. The task can be daunting, especially for those who have lived in the same house for a lifetime. So what is the best way to dispose of things you no longer, need, want or have space for? It would be ideal if one starts cleaning out rooms, drawers and closets over time rather than waiting until just before you must move. It's easier to gradually pare down what you own when you are not rushed or under pressure.

If  have seniors in your life that you suspect will need to downsize soon, it makes sense to help them identify what they need, what the want, and what they would like to give away. Encourage them to give their valuable, special or memorable items to family members and perhaps even let them choose what they would like. Gifting special items to loved ones provides an ideal opportunity to reminisce and share stories about the past which in turn preserves the family history. Keep in mind though that not everyone may want items that you consider special and conversely, there may be things that are not overly meaningful to you but hold special memories for a younger loved one.

If there are things that no one wants but you believe to be valuable, have them appraised so you can determine if you are best off selling them or giving them away. Consider donating items that are not valuable but still useful. So organizations may be willing to provide a tax receipt for donations which may be more beneficial than the money you can make from selling them. Many things that you think are valuable may not be and may not be worth the effort to try to sell. For large items or a large volume of items that you want to throw out, you may want to contact a junk removal company to dispose of them.  Ensure that you check all drawers in furniture and pockets in clothing that you are getting rid of to ensure you haven't put something in a 'safe' place and simply forgotten about it.

If there are family photos and mementos, entrust someone in the family to be the 'keeper of the memories'. Consider making a digital album that can be shared by everyone and perhaps even incorporate stories about the content that your elder loved ones have shared.

As difficult as downsizing can be, taking it slowly, involving your loved ones in decision making and respecting their wishes can make the task easier and far less stressful.

Friday, 1 September 2017


Always looking for innovative senior housing options, I came across something interesting recently. A couple of areas are testing out HomeSharing projects. With this model, younger seniors in need of accommodation are being matched with older seniors living alone who need basic assistance or simply companionship. The younger senior helps out in exchange for reduced rent, and the older senior shares their home and has a someone to keep them company and help out around the house. As long as the two are matched well and get along, this concept seems like a wonderful idea with many benefits for all involved. 

This project,  in its infancy in both Northumberland County and the Halton Region would be worth following to see how successful it is and if it is adopted by other regions. A bit like the co-housing model but on a smaller scale, this does have potential as something communities can build on and eventually create groupings (of HomeSharing units where there are many seniors) that can also share care and assistance among them. It can be a good solution for well seniors who need a bit of assistance to remain independent but don't want to move into a retirement home setting or for those who live in smaller communities where there are not available retirement living options. 

As our senior population grows, we will be forced to look at more and more innovative ways to house them  in settings that allow for independence while providing them with a bit of assistance. This is one example of how we can do this and I look forward to following its progress.