The Difficulty of Downsizing.
Do you cringe whenever you hear the word “downsize?” If so, you’re not alone! We often hear from our incoming Charter House residents that the downsizing process was the most difficult aspect of moving.
We have an emotional connection to our belongings for several reasons. Maybe we have family heirlooms that have been handed down from generation to generation. Or maybe we have items that remind us of special life events such as the birth of a child. Some of us have prized collections that took years to accumulate. Our treasures can feel as if they hold a lifetime of sentiment and it can be emotionally challenging to part with them.
We downsize for various reasons. Are you moving into a home with half the space as your current home? Maybe you’re moving into a senior community. Or maybe you’ve just determined that you have too much “stuff” and no longer want to feel burdened. Whatever the reason, start early and have a strategy. You don’t have to wait until you’re moving into a senior community to downsize and purge items you no longer need or use!
In this post, we’ll provide you with personal experiences from our current and incoming Charter House residents. You’ll also find a list of tips and strategies we’ve created that you may find helpful in your own “right-sizing” journey.
Downsizing Experience. Words From Our Residents.
“While downsizing, we asked ourselves for each item ‘do we need this,’ or ‘can we live without this?’ This was a great strategy for us because we realized how many things we would no longer need after living at Charter House. This included tools, cleaning supplies, fitness equipment, and our large dining table.” – Amita H.
“Some people have lived in a house their entire lives and are surrounded by family antiques and have a difficult time separating. I think it can be hard on those who have workshops, offices, and craft rooms. When they move from their homes, they feel a loss of personal space.” – Norma S.
“When leaving my home of 30 years, I started by giving my kids what they wanted. Then I hired an auctioneer to sell my valuable items. The rest I gave away to my church. In the end, our children will get rid of what we don’t, so this makes it easier for them.” – William J.
“I had difficulty parting from my coin collection and antique collection. Collections have always been an interest of mine and I’ve spent the better part of my life collecting. I was able to sell a portion of my collections, but the rest didn’t sell. Even though my collections were meaningful to me, it didn’t mean they were meaningful to others.” – Ron T.
“I think we put off downsizing because we don’t want to face it, but it won’t get easier as we age. It was time consuming, but I now feel a sense of freedom that I’m no longer tied down by my stuff!” – Rebecca C.
“It was a difficult realization that my children either didn’t want, didn’t need, or couldn’t take items I had always planned on gifting to them. My daughter’s house is already fully-furnished and my son lives in a small apartment in Chicago and doesn’t have room for anything else. Though my kids didn’t take many items, they took small mementos which made me very happy.” – Shirley A.
Tips and Strategies.
- Start Early
Take the time you need to go through your items mindfully rather than scrambling to go through them at the last minute before your move.
- Know the dimensions of your new space
This is an excellent way not only to determine how much you can bring, but to pre-arrange your furniture. This will come in useful on move-in day.
- Determine Your Items’ Actual Usage – Bring Only the Essentials
Ask yourself these key questions for each item you plan to bring: What value will it add to my household? Will it make my life easier? Am I going to have a place for it? Will I want to keep it for a very long time? How difficult will it be to get rid of?
After you’ve answered these key questions, categorize items into keep, sell, donate, or recycle/toss. You can sell items through a neighborhood app or social media. You can bring items to consignment shops and antique stores. If you have a large-scale downsize consider having an estate sale or an auction.
- Enlist the Help of Others
Whether it is from family, friends, or neighbors, it can be helpful to have someone put items in the categories above after you’ve gone through them.
- Get Digital
You can eliminate several items by going digital. Instead of requiring space for hundreds of books, consider using an e-reader. If you have photo albums, you can scan your hard copy photos so you have them in digital format. You can keep your music on your computer rather than hard copy CD’s that require storing.
Stress is a fact of life. The key to reducing the unhealthy and aging effects of stress is identifying its causes and implementing positive coping techniques. It is vital to aging well to reduce your symptoms and manage their effect in healthy ways. Taking proactive steps to integrate healthy lifestyle choices into your routine will boost your resiliency.
Effects of Stress
Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that irritating headache, your frequent insomnia, or your decreased productivity, but stress may actually be the cause. Symptoms can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Ongoing stress can contribute to various health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Other common effects include upset stomach, muscle tension, lack of focus, feeling overwhelmed, social withdrawal, and sleep problems. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them.
Strategies to Manage Stress
You can benefit your health by managing your symptoms. Here are a few tips from Mayo Clinic:
- Get regular physical activity
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, or massage
- Keep a sense of humor and find joy within your day
- Spend time with family and friends
- Set aside time for hobbies you enjoy such as reading and listening to music
You do not need to wait until stress has a negative impact on your life to take action. You can incorporate
stress relieving activities to enhance your quality of life today. Navigating the range of stressors in our lives takes effort and many are outside our ability to influence or control. Learning to embrace life’s uncertainties is paramount to minimizing the impact of the stress of aging on your health and well-being.
Did you know that staying connected to the world around you is vital for healthy aging? As individuals age, their risk for isolation increases which can increase the likelihood of deteriorating health. Being socially connected enhances your quality of life by providing avenues for meaning and purpose. Senior living communities, like Charter House, provide residents with an environment in which to meet new friends and engage with others on a daily basis. Connecting with others provides opportunities to stimulate your brain through conversations and learning. It can also provide you with a sense of belonging when you have a shared interest with others. Whether you’re maintaining longtime friendships or forming new relationships with peers, ongoing connections are vital for healthy aging.
How to Stay Connected
Here are a few ways in which our Charter House residents choose to stay social connected and engaged:
- Volunteer: 85% of our residents are active volunteers in the Rochester community.
- Club membership: Most of our residents participate in at least 1 group which could include a service organization, book club, health club, or social group.
- Programming: Charter House provides over 300 different opportunities for engagement every year. Residents have ample opportunities to meet their Charter House neighbors, catch up with friends, and make new friends.
- Classes: Charter House provides several daily fitness classes, foreign language classes, and art classes. By participating in these ongoing courses, residents can meet new friends with similar interests.
Trying to eat smart by implementing healthier eating habits can be overwhelming. The onslaught of commercials promoting supplements and attempting to read food labels can be confusing. What should you do? Eat whole foods and be mindful of portion sizes. Whole foods are as close to their natural form as possible. They contain the micronutrients your body needs for good health. Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provide dietary fiber which can help prevent health issues such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“Smart eating means being mindful about what you eat and it’s one of the most beneficial lifestyle choices you can make as you live with a chronic condition. Focus on making a few changes to the amount, type and frequency of the food you eat. Make subtle changes one at a time, even if it is just to cut your dessert in half or to opt for a healthier alternative. The key is to start somewhere rather than or trying to do too many things at once. Then practice it until it becomes a habit. Focus on having a mindset that this is what I am doing for my health.” – Maria Collazo-Clavell, M.D., Professor of Medicine in the Department Internal Medicine and Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Take Action Now
- Snack Smart. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you’ll remember to eat it.
- Choose vegetables. Focus on recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredients, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.
- Explore seasonings. Salt isn’t your only option. Brighten flavors with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Use balsamic or wine vinegars. Add some heat with fresh hot peppers or red pepper flakes.
- Plan Your Plate. Pick up a free copy of the Mayo Clinic Patient Education pamphlet Eat Well: Use The Plate Method from the Patient Education Center, Siebens building, subway level.
Check out this Mayo Clinic Connect thread to share healthy eating tips and recipes and learn what others have found helpful in their healthy eating journey!
Charter House opened our Parkside Art Gallery in January of 2015 as a way to give back to the Rochester community. This rotating art gallery features artistic works from local artists. This dedicated space for local artists feeds our residents’ cultural interests and love for art.
We believe in being a strong community partner. Because of that, we are always looking to connect with programs and resources that benefit Rochester. Creating an art gallery was another way for Charter House to give back to the arts community. Offering a rotating art exhibit was also of enormous interest to our residents because of their love of the cultural arts.
We’ve had a very positive response from the community. To date, we’ve featured 31 artists within 18 exhibits! We now have artists scheduled to exhibit in the Parkside Gallery for the next several years. Artists now refer to Charter House as “the place where local artists want to display their work!”
Every quarter when we feature a new exhibit, we hosts an opening event in which the public is invited to attend. It is always a very well-attended event with refreshments, music, and a gallery talk by the artists. Check out our Facebook page or our Parkside Gallery page for details on upcoming openings!
Senior Living Blog
Welcome to the senior living blog for Charter House! Charter House is the world’s only Mayo Clinic Senior Living and we’re located in Rochester, Minnesota.
In these blog posts we’ll provide you with helpful resources and information. You’ll learn more about the Charter House lifestyle and our philosophy on aging. You can gain insight from our wellness tips and healthy aging information from Mayo Clinic experts.
Learning about senior living can be best coming from a senior themselves. Therefore, we’ll feature personal stories from our very own Charter House residents. About half of our residents move to Charter House from the Rochester area, and the other half are move from all over the US. Moving cross-country can add complexity, so we’ll provide you with the tips and tricks our residents have used.