As summer moves into fall, every gardener knows the time has come to plant mums, cut back fading summer blooms, and clean out the clay pots for storage in the garage. The seasons of gardening come with their differing beauties and responsibilities, and the seasons of life are the same. Eventually, we know we need to embrace the autumn and early winter of our lives.
Chris Hoganson recommends that older adults think of “rightsizing” their lives, which helps them make their homes most suitable for their current lives. The term “downsizing” has unpleasant connotations; one who is downsized feels a sense of loss and powerlessness. Hoganson believes rightsizing gives people a sense of empowerment. “A fresh start can be scary, but it can also be very uplifting,” she says.
Chris, owner of Smart Living by Chris is a certified senior move manager.
When it comes to rightsizing, the best-case scenarios are when older adults decide on their own that they are tired of maintaining a large home and yard. They might want to buy a patio home to reduce maintenance responsibilities or move into a retirement community for camaraderie. Some people want to remain in their longtime homes, but they need to make changes to how they live and what they have for a better “aging in place” experience.
Often the act of rightsizing takes years to accomplish. Hoganson says clients will call her in to help them rightsize a certain area of the home, and then she may not hear from them again for a number of years. The transition to a fully rightsized life is a gradual process.
So what should you look for in a senior moving professional?
An important criterion is certification by the National Association of Senior Move Managers. Membership in this organization means the professional has received training, passed a test, and has resources and support available from the national association. Membership in the National Association of Professional Organizers is also valuable.
Reputable rightsizing professionals are sensitive to their clients during this vulnerable time, and they work to address needs within their clients’ budgets. They do not throw anything away unless being specifically directed to by their clients.
Once a professional organizer is hired, he or she will visit the client and assess what needs to be done. Based on the clients’ needs, she will put together a timeline and help the client decide who else might need to be involved. For example, if a client has antiques or art, an appraiser may need to be contacted.
Whether or not a professional is hired, there are things adult children can do to help their parents during the process of rightsizing. Hoganson urges, “Whenever possible, have the parent make decisions. An adult child may not understand it, but they should respect it.” Adult children need to also be mindful of what they can handle within their own busy lives.
Rightsizing, like any major life endeavor, requires considerable work on many fronts, but ultimately it can be a profoundly liberating experience.