Sunday, February 10, 2013

Downsizing In-Place

Downsizing is a term used to describe two different activities.  One activity is the business procedure of reducing staff and locations to remain profitable and ward off bankruptcy with the hopes of rebounding in the future.  Sometimes this process works and sometimes it fails.  But the goal to rebound is always part of the overall plan.

Downsizing for senior citizens has a very different meaning.  Downsizing means moving to a smaller home, getting rid of excess furniture and clutter that has accumulated over many years.  Downsizing is the goal.  Making life simpler, less expensive and safer is the goal of downsizing.

There are many valid reasons for a senior to downsize his or her home and life.  Often downsizing is a forced event caused by financial or medical setbacks.  Families of senior citizens are the frequent catalysts for the changes.  One day I will possibly downsize and move but until then I plan to Downsize In-Place (DIP) to avoid the unnecessary turmoil from a forced or unplanned downsizing.

As with many aspects of life and work, planning is the key to a successful project.  DIP has many advantages and these benefits may actually stave off the actual need of moving to a smaller home as a result.  Implementing the plan will result in an orderly and effective change in the life of the senior citizen.  There will be time to reminisce about family events and evaluation of the disposition of the possessions.  More importantly the senior citizen will be actively involved in the process and not an unwillingly bystander, thereby keeping his or her self-esteem intact and not a helpless or reluctant on-looker.

My view is that the goal of DIP is to allow the senior citizen to remain in his or her home as long as possible and perhaps forever.

Planning will reduce the stress to the senior citizen and the family.  Planning and implementing the various points slowly over time is the goal of DIP.  Senior Citizens Guidehas a wonderful article about the process of DIP which I encourage you to read.   Another interesting web site is Aging in Place which contains very valuable information.  Rather than try to recap or recreate this information I encourage you view these two links and to Google “downsizing in place” for more information.

My blog and futures posts on DIP will be reflections on my adventures in DIP.  Some of them are humorous, some serious and most are in the future.

First I lost forty pounds, most healthy downsizing action known.  Then I had to buy pants with a smaller waist line, adding more stuff to the closet.  Some of the larger pants found a home, others still fill my closet.  The end result is that I have more pants in the closet.  But my health is better.  Perhaps I ought to get rid of the oversized pants and keep at the diet and exercise program.

Now tackling my wife’s closets is beyond my control, scope of authority, understanding and ability to effect is another story.  I can’t worry what is beyond my control.

Last year my wife and I tackled one modest clutter program.  We organized over forty years of family photographs that were stored in envelopes, boxes, and albums.  Prior to this project we had a total mess.  The end result was that we gave a few pictures away and now have the photographs stored neatly in several plastic containers with labels.  A number of photographs have been digitized and filed in an orderly manner.  Last week in a search for a particular picture we found several more boxes that need to be organized.  Back to square one.  Thank goodness my recent pictures are digital and stored on the computer; a lucky few ones get printed and put into our travel albums.

I also organized most of our paper work.  One file drawer is important paper work and documents.  I intend to make a smaller file of essential personal documents to be easily moved in case of emergency.  Some of that information is digitized on the cloud.  A second drawer is of interest to only me.  My instruction to my survivors is to look at that file with the following advice: read, laugh, cry and discard.

Personal documents, pictures and some antiques require special attention.  Memories and items of value need slow, thoughtful planning and disposition.  A forced, hurried downsizing will cause stress and mistakes.  Even if no family member wants some antique of sentimental value it may have financial value and shouldn’t be sold at a garage sale.

My sons refuse to let me get rid of our original Mac computer (which can be found on Ebay for $300).  I have walked my sons around the house and pointed out items that I think have significant financial value.  To my surprise they have expressed an interest in two or three items that are not of much value.  One is a storage hutch made by high school students (so bad that a companion piece for it is in the garage with tools and junk storage).

My personal reasons for promoting DIP are simple.  I like my house, my neighborhood, the nearby library, nearby bookstore and shopping.  I know where things are in the house, my son’s rooms give me a space to use for myself, I know the quirks of the house (which circuit breaker controls the coffee pot), I can find the bathroom in the dark, and I like the sound of rain on the metal roof of the patio.  I am not sentimental about the house.  My home for 35 years is comfortable.  And I will DIP to stay here as long as possible.

Next challenge is the garage.  Coming soon a garage sale near you.  Forty years of junk, cheap.
My work bench used to be in space now occupied by one son's excess books and comics

Second son and spouse's pile where my car used to be

Of course I have lots of stuff for the upcoming garage sale with the hopes of moving my workbench back into its place and be able to park one car in the garage.  Of course, neither child or spouse live with me, it's another story how the stuff came to be in my garage.

Blog change:  Only my photographs will be used.  Unless there is good reason to use another persons work.

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  1. Goodness that garage looks like an aircraft hanger compared to mine. Mine would actually be half that size - I am going by the width of the doors.

    I garage my car when it is not in use, and the oil boiler for the central heating is in there too. You would be amazed at the clutter I have round the walls and on shelves, but that is down for clearing when the weather improves.

    Some years back, I told myself I was emigrating and clearing out anything I would not take with me. Somehow the bits and pieces have gathered again..... I wonder if I have mice? ;)

  2. Let me know when you need help for the fantasy garage sale.

    We could come live with you and save a bunch of money and pay of debt, but...

    My wife and I are actually using the garage to store stuff since we are aiming to sell our house.

  3. I love the concept or DIP. We actually moved, but not necessarily downsized. Before we moved, we went through every single item in the house and only kept the most treasured of possession. Even got read of things that were important. Occasionally, I'll miss something, but whether you move like we did, or stay put like you did, everyone should start cleaning out the clutter.
    Here's my take on clearing clutter: