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Actively Aging: Downsizing

Eau Claire (WQOW) – If you’re 55 or older, chances are, you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff! Professional organizers say it’s never to early or too late to start downsizing; but the process can get emotional and depending on the situation, it can be physically tiring too.

It can feel like a moving project when you pack, place and purge your stuff. Patti Jones,from Eau Claire, is in the middle of this process called downsizing. Jones and her husband Bill raised three boys in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Now that the boys have moved out, Jones has been busy.

“It’s a lot of maintenance and house care,” Jones said. “A lot of times I’ll save things and I won’t use them again, but I’m not quite ready to throw everything out yet. I think I’ve done really good for who I am.”

Downsizing is an organizational skill and it doesn’t come naturally to many. In fact, that’s what Nancy Rothwell’s business is founded on.

“I’m a professional organizer,” said Rothwell, owner of Straighten-Up Organizing, LLC, “So, I go into peoples’ homes or businesses and I work one-on-one with them to help them simplify their lives.”

When downsizing, Rothwell said there are three main things you can do with your items: you can keep them, donate them, or throw them, and you can use signs to keep you focused on the task before you.

“I once heard a saying that we spend two-thirds of our life accumulating things and one-third of our life getting rid of things,” Rothwell said. “I think we all just need to be aware that things need to go out of our home, just as often as they come in our home.”

Of course it sounds easy coming from a professional.

“The biggest thing with organizing is not having things you don’t need,” Rothwell said. “Sorting like-things together, and then making homes for everything so that when you touch things in your home they actually have somewhere to live.”

After countless hours of work, Jones has items temporarily living in her garage, waiting to be donated or sold. She feels privileged that she can accomplish such a task.

“I’m healthy and I can make decisions for myself,” Jones said. “Sometimes, something serious happens and someone can get whisked away to a nursing home and their family and everybody has to sort through things.”

It’s a good reminder that our days are as numbered as our items are.

Bridget Curran

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