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Preparing for a move to senior housing: getting rid of “stuff!”

Posted: January 31, 2013

Whenever I do a tour of Shillman House with a prospective resident, they invariably say, “well, I can’t move until I get rid of stuff.”  That remark always opens the door for me to begin a conversation.

I tell them about different strategies I have seen people use. Some folks can’t part with anything and bring 90% of their possessions with them.  They don’t seem to mind maneuvering around the “stuff” and seem happy to have brought it all with them.  Then, there are the minimalists who typically have called a charity to come and pick up their donated furniture.  One resident donated all of his furniture except for his favorite chair, bed, night table, tv stand, and kitchen table and chairs.  He has just what he needs and he is quite content, although he admits, “there is no place for my visitors to sit!”

I always tell people that my parents took a third approach that I still believe was the best.  They invited their children to come over and pick out things they wanted from the items they weren’t taking when they moved.  I picked the piano; one brother took the patio furniture; and the other was happy to get everything he needed to furnish a guest bedroom.  Then they invited their grandkids and other family members to participate in their “divesting” process.   In no time, everyone had something that belonged to my parents that they wanted and the burden my parents had of “getting rid of stuff” turned into a positive family experience.

The need to get rid of stuff is not a good reason to put off moving.  There are options for dealing with it and family members should steer right into the conservation as I always do.  I have found many people appreciate my stories and realize that dealing with stuff isn’t as daunting a task as it might appear.

Carl Zack, JCHE's Chief Operating Officer, January 31, 2013

Image courtesy of nuttakit/


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