Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday, May 5th, 2022
Whether you have lived in the same house most of your life or moved frequently, the process of downsizing for retirement living can be stressful and confusing.
In our youth, moving is simply a matter of lining up a few friends, a pickup truck and trailer, and praying the weather will hold while we load and unload our things over the weekend. Hauling sofas up two flights of stairs, maneuvering appliances through tight doorways, and reorganizing the belongings of a mere 20-something years is fairly straightforward. In fact, friends helping with our move were happy with pizza and beer as remuneration for the time and effort.
Fast forward a few decades, and instead of just moving, we are looking at what it means to downsize. For many of us downsizing could mean aging in place in our current home and letting go of belongings that no longer serve us so that adult children aren’t unnecessarily burdened should something happen to us. For others, this could be moving from a two-story home to a single level home of similar size so we no longer have the burden of stairs. Or perhaps we have a home with a large yard that we no longer have the energy or desire to maintain.
Downsizing for some is choosing simplicity, convenience and social opportunities that come with being part of a senior living community. The joy of no longer having to cook and instead having wonderful meals provided. No longer having to deal with the repairs and maintenance that go along with owning a home. And perhaps most importantly, being in an environment that fosters social interaction with others that leads to a healthier and more fulfilling life.
If a move is part of the downsizing plan, this once simple task becomes a monumental chore. Generations worth of belongings have been collected and tucked away in the closets, cupboards, attics, and garages. Memories are everywhere, along with the remnants of a career having spanned some forty-plus years. Even the idea of moving is exhausting.
Would you believe that making the decision to move is actually the most difficult step in the process? With that out of the way, it’s time to start taking steps toward your goal.
“In Part II of the Truth about Downsizing series, we will cover the necessary tasks, resources, and timelines associated with making a successful retirement move,” said Brett Junell, co-moderator of the Retired Living Truth Series, a monthly educational event for northern Nevada senior adults.
“In our April seminar, we examined the reasons it’s so difficult to let go of the things we’ve accumulated over the years,” Junell said. “On May 19, Part II of the series will get into specifics of downsizing.”
At the seminar last month on the topic of the Psychology Behind Letting Go, much of the discussion was around why it can be so challenging to take action when it comes to simplifying our lives in terms of the physical possessions we have accumulated over a life time. Once you are equipped with the tools and strategies to deal with the emotional and psychological decisions of letting go, then comes the challenge of formulating a plan.
Whether you’re looking at downsizing now or later, a plan is critical to reducing stress.
At one end of the spectrum are those who downsize with no plan, which typically results in a daunting, stressful, overwhelming and exhausting experience. In contrast, there are those who follow a proven strategy resulting in a manageable, organized, process providing peace of mind. And of course there are always those DIYers somewhere in between working it out as best they can as they create their own process.
No matter if you are downsizing or rightsizing, retiring into an active lifestyle community, relocating mom and dad or transitioning a loved one into assisted living or memory care, they all have similar elements of an emotional and many times stressful transition into a new stage of life.
“Those who are most successful are those who choose to be proactive and take control by making their own decisions,” Junell said. “And, like anything else in life, most people would prefer to follow a proven step-by-step process.”
Joe Parks knows from experience.
“Downsizing is a living hell during which we pay dearly in confusion, consternation, sleeplessness, tiredness, and aching muscles,” Parks said. “Having a proven system to follow has been most helpful.”
Joe and his wife have downsized twice.
Another believer in having a plan to follow and help executing it is Jim Dunseath.
“By following the downsize system, we moved from our 2,500 square foot home to an 1,100 square foot apartment,” Dunseath said. “It wasn’t easy, but the system gave us focus and made our plans a reality.”
It’s about more than the basic questions: How many of my belongings can I take to my new home given everything won’t fit? How do I go about deciding what to take to a smaller space? What are the steps involved to make the move smooth?
The reality is that whether or not you choose to do it, everybody downsizes. Don’t wait for the ultimate downsize into the “pine box.” We all know, “You can’t take it with you.”
Make a plan. The question is whether you’ll have a plan that works. The proven Downsizing Made Easy Method breaks the process down into steps that guide you along the path from “making a plan” to “Relax. Reflect. Recover.”
Robert Culberston, 89, followed the plan and was happy he did, “Following a downsizing process made my life so much easier,” Culbertson said. “My team did all sorts of things that I suppose I could’ve done, but it would have been an awful ordeal for me to have done it. My downsizing team basically took a humongous burden off my back, and I more than appreciate that.”
For those interested in learning more about the process of simplifying or downsizing after retirement, the upcoming May 19 seminar “The Truth about The Downsizing Made Easy Method”, Part II in the Downsizing series, will explore the necessary tasks, resources, and timelines associated with making a successful retirement move.
The free seminar, “The Truth about The Downsizing Made Easy Method” seminar will be held on Thursday, May 19 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the RSAR Building at 5650 Riggins Court, Reno (near Meadowood Mall).
The seminar is free for seniors and their guests. Pre-registration is required because seating is limited.
Seat reservations can be made online at www.RetiredLivingTruthSeries.com or by calling (775) 432-6398.