Decluttering Our Later Lives

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In a humorous Ziggy cartoon, a man and his dog dig for buried treasure, the man dreaming of gold, and the dog, of course, dreaming of “dog gold”: a chest full of bones. Each uncovers the other’s yearning and, disappointed, re-buries the “treasure”.

downsizingOne man’s (or dog’s) junk is another’s treasure, indeed. And downsizing into a smaller home, perhaps with a HECM for Purchase, is an ideal opportunity for an individual or couple to share the wealth, by relieving themselves of possessions that weigh them down. If a senior has clothes, furniture, appliances, sports equipment, or any number of items they haven’t used in years and know they’re unlikely to use again, it might be a great idea to hold a garage sale, or donate the items to charity, and lighten their load.

One experienced loan officer who has watched many reverse mortgage clients right-size and eliminate clutter says, “When you skinny down, you relieve stress — and find it much easier to maintain your house. The IRS may also give you a tax write-off on donations.”

Simplifying at the time of relocation is a great way for seniors to skip procrastinating about all the clutter, and make the move easier and more enjoyable. But for some, simplifying may not be that simple.

Keeping It Clear Is An Ongoing Commitment

A new magazine from the publishers of Better Homes and Gardens, The Magnolia Journal, offers inspiration for life and home. It features HGTV “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines from Waco, Texas, who remodel older homes with a “wow” factor that’s entertaining as well as practical. And they know a few things about decluttering.

In the inaugural issue of the magazine, Joanna writes about “The Complexity of Living A Simple Life,” noting with humor that while she likes a clean, orderly house, sometimes she can’t open the drawers in her living room hutch because they “are so jam-packed with ‘necessities’ that I can’t get to any of them. If this isn’t irony, I’m not sure what is.” She admits the same is true of her jewelry drawer and closet.

Paring down takes commitment, and it’s not a one-time event: clutter is insidious, and can creep back into a senior’s new home as easily as failing to discard daily junk mail or buying extras when you shop because Costco makes it easy to stock up on essential household goods.

Just as someone who enjoys gardening will regularly prune the yard to keep the flowers looking their best, pruning our lives is an ongoing process — one that may be challenging for an older person if they’ve accumulated a lifetime of “stuff” that feels overwhelming to sort through. Professional organizers can help a senior declutter for a fee, and unpaid assistants may be just as effective (they’re known as children and grandkids).

If you know an elder who’d like to downsize, declutter and simplify, suggest it as a positive pre-relocation step. There’ll be less to pack, move, and unpack — and more breathing room in their new lives without extra baggage that they no longer need.

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What are your thoughts on seniors decluttering? Please leave your input in the Comments section below, and share this post on social media using the Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn icons at the top of this page. Thank you!

All-Access? Matching Building Design to Elder Needs

When you’re discussing aging in place with your reverse mortgage clients and prospects, seek to discover what areas may need special attention if they’re to remain safely in their long-term home — or, especially, if they’re considering relocating and choosing a HECM for Purchase.

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