By Linda Merrill, Hometalk
As our population ages and the Baby Boom generation starts reaching retirement age, issues related to downsizing are becoming ever more important. Since World War II, our country has seen unprecedented growth and unprecedented levels of personal accumulation. Our homes are literally stuffed from basement to attic. As older people are moving from larger homes to condos or apartments, or in with family, or to assisted living facilities, the decisions related to giving up what they’ve spent a lifetime accumulating can be overwhelming.
Luckily, there are many organizations and services out there to help seniors, and their families, work their way through both the logistics and emotional factors involved. In the following Q&A, I asked Janet LaBerge, owner of Massachusetts based cleanout company Dirty Deeds, to offer suggestions on how to work through the downsizing process smoothly.
After a long career in social work, Janet offers her older customers a unique level of service and understanding about what they are going through. She understands that it’s not just about getting rid of “stuff” ― it’s a major life transition that requires understanding.
Q. What are the biggest fears older people have when they are downsizing their homes and are faced with having to choose what to keep and what to pass along?
A. The biggest fear is usually that they will miss something and throw out a document or picture that they wanted. They are not usually too worried about making the wrong decision about what to keep or give away, but older people usually have a lot of documents and often will tuck important items in unusual places and then forget where they put them.
Q. How do you work with your clients to allay these fears?
A. We look through everything when we are doing a clean out. We have found old photographs that have slipped behind drawers in bureaus, yearbooks and wedding albums that got put into bins with old Christmas decorations. It reassures the homeowner that they don’t need to go through each bin because we can do that quickly and efficiently.