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You might need to downsize if...

reprinted from

Boomers and Beyond


April 7, 2015

Do you have too much stuff? Are you thinking about moving but overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting, packing, or disposing of what you have accumulated? Do you want to stay in your home, but feel like your stuff is making it hard to live there safely?

Boomers, do you think your parent’s have too much stuff? Are you worried about coping with their stuff after their deaths? Does talking to a family member about anyone’s “stuff” cause a big fight?

Good news: you are not alone. The bad news: the stuff isn’t likely to go away without a plan.

Most of us are overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of downsizing, de-cluttering, organizing, and discarding. We may need a lot of help, or just a little encouragement and assistance. Some people simply may not have the right kind of family dynamics, or even family living nearby, who have the time needed to get it all done.

I recently spent three days at the National Association of Senior Move Managers’ annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Dealing with one’s “stuff” was a popular topic, but Senior Move Managers do more than help people corral their belongings. They also do much more than help people move.

Senior Move Managers® assist older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or "aging in place.” Senior Move Managers® have backgrounds in gerontology, social work, health care, nursing and psychology. Others come from the corporate world of project management, technology, accounting or marketing. It requires a profound commitment to connecting with older adults and a desire to perform meaningful work.

Senior Move Managers® help by: developing an overall move or "age in place" plan; creating customized floor plans for the new home or re-purposed current home; arranging for the profitable disposal of unwanted items; interviewing, scheduling and overseeing movers; arranging shipments and storage; providing supervision and oversight of professional packing; unpacking and setting up the new home; helping you plan home modification priorities to make a current home work better, thus avoiding a move at all; and other related services, such as cleaning, waste removal, shopping, assisting with selection of a realtor and helping prepare the home to be sold.

Thinking about future needs and simplifying NOW means gaining the freedom to live the life you want and not being ruled by what may quite literally be standing in your way.

Time for a Short Quiz

You might need to downsize if:

A bed in your home that has not been slept in for two years or longer – 3 points

Two beds – 10 points

More than 8 inches of stacked magazines – 3 points

More than 20 inches – 10 points

LP records, 8 track, or cassette tapes with no way to play them – 3 points

Broken appliance or piece of furniture that you intend to fix that has been broken longer than one year – 3 points

Crib, stroller, high chair or car seat acquired to have on hand for a grandchild that is currently in college – 3 points each

A 2nd, 3rd or 4th set of flatware, everyday dishes, or good china – 2 points for each set

Items you are saving for the kids, including furniture, mementoes, artwork, dishes – 2 points each

Bins or boxes of seasonal decorations – 1 point each (3 points each if they haven’t been used in three years or longer)

Sheets that don’t fit any beds in your home – 1 point

Explanation of Benefits from your insurance older than last year – 1 point

More than 6 mismatched coffee mugs for each resident in your home – 1 point

Enough ketchup/mustard or soy sauce packets to start your own restaurant – 1 point

Phone books or yellow pages older than the current year – 1 point for each

Warranties or owner’s manuals for items you no longer own – 1 point

Old wall calendars (2013 or older) – 1 point

Junk mail & charity requests unopened/older than one month – 1 point

Gowns or tuxedos that don’t fit anymore – 1 point each

Basket or full of orphan or holey socks – 1 point

Shoes that hurt your feet/heels that are too high – 1 point per pair

Tupperware without lids, more than a half-dozen butter tubs, sports bottles, or pickle jars – 1 point

1 point each for each of these items that you own and have not used in the past three years, 2 points if it is broken:

Garden tools, leaf blowers, lawn mowers, weed eaters, table saw, sander, power washer, drill

Fondue pot

Punch bowl


Sewing machine

Fishing/hunting equipment including firearms

Golf clubs

Tennis racket

Crystal stemware

Musical instrument (3 points if it is a piano or organ)

10 or fewer points? You are a downsizing marvel. Spread the joy, but try not to be irritating.

11 to 20 points? You are trying, but things are starting to slip away from you. Fifteen minutes a day is all it takes to start working your way out of the mess.

More than 20 points? It may be time to get some professional help.

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