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Thu, Nov 7 3:53pm · Right-Size Your Home in Charter House

Hi Emily,
It sounds like you and your family have quite the journey ahead of you! I am glad to hear you're looking for a new location in which you can continue your gardening. Many folks feel downsizing equates to no longer participating in their hobbies. But it sounds like you plan to continue your creative outlet, just on a smaller scale. We wish you the best of luck and hope you can continue to find support on Mayo Connect throughout your transition.

Fri, Nov 1 4:04pm · Planning Ahead for Your Future in Charter House

Time for Action


Many older adults wait too long to incorporate resources into their lives that will help them remain independent. Planning ahead is essential to considering the options available to you if your health or circumstances change. You will have more control when you make time to carefully explore your options and do your research. You will take a lot of pressure off your family if you plan ahead and seek out the resources you need to remain healthy, active, and safe.

Expert Insight

“By acknowledging the need for additional support, you will likely be able to continue to live more independently for a longer period of time. If you wait until you are in a crisis, you may have less control and much more limited options. Pay attention to emerging resources you can take advantage of to maintain your independence. New technologies such as smart phone apps are creating options to address the challenges ranging from medication management to transportation. Be open to incorporating these new resources into your life.” – Sarah J. Crane, M.D., Geriatrician and Internist in Community Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic and member of the Board of Directors at Charter House – Mayo Clinic Retirement Community in Rochester, Minnesota.

Take Action Now

  • Create a life plan. Develop a personalized plan so you can maintain control over your life as you age. Find resources offering you flexibility as your needs change. Don’t wait until you are in the middle of a crisis. For some, this may mean joining the waiting list for a senior community in anticipation of a future move. For others, this may mean establishing in-home care resources for assistance with daily needs.
  • Document your wishes. Review Mayo Clinic Advance Health Care Planning and familiarize yourself with documents such as a POLST, advanced directive, and living will. You can consult with an attorney who is specialized in elder law. Provide your health care provider and health care agents (if applicable) with a copy of your finalized documents. Keep these documents accessible and updated.
  • Engage community resources. Contact 2-1-1. This three-digit number connects you to a free and confidential referral service through United Way to find community services, resources, and volunteer opportunities.

Click here for more information from Mayo Clinic on future health care planning.

Do you have any insight you’ve uncovered while preparing for your own future?

Wed, Oct 16 1:07pm · Right-Size Your Home in Charter House

I really like how you stated items "can become locked up with our very identity." That is powerful and certainly helps to explain why downsizing can be such an emotional process.

Sun, Sep 15 5:32pm · Parkside Art Gallery in Charter House

Join us in our Parkside Gallery for the art exhibit opening of local artists Ann M. Riggott, Y. Catherine Park, and H. Peter Park! The exhibit East Meets West will feature a mixture of traditional realism, asian brush painting, and calligraphy. Enjoy this free event located at Charter House – Mayo Clinic Retirement Living with wine, hors d’oeuvres, a gallery talk, and music provide by e-Cello Trio.

Sun, Sep 15 12:00pm · Right-Size Your Home in Charter House

Right-size Your Home

The Difficulty of Downsizing.

Do you cringe whenever you hear the word “downsize?”  If so, you’re not alone!  We often hear from our incoming Charter House residents that the downsizing process was the most difficult aspect of moving.

We have an emotional connection to our belongings for several reasons.  Maybe we have family heirlooms that have been handed down from generation to generation.  Or maybe we have items that remind us of special life events such as the birth of a child.  Some of us have prized collections that took years to accumulate.  Our treasures can feel as if they hold a lifetime of sentiment and it can be emotionally challenging to part with them.

We downsize for various reasons.  Are you moving into a home with half the space as your current home?  Maybe you’re moving into a senior community.  Or maybe you’ve just determined that you have too much “stuff” and no longer want to feel burdened.  Whatever the reason, start early and have a strategy.  You don’t have to wait until you’re moving into a senior community to downsize and purge items you no longer need or use!

In this post, we’ll provide you with personal experiences from our current and incoming Charter House residents.  You’ll also find a list of tips and strategies we’ve created that you may find helpful in your own “right-sizing” journey.

Downsizing Experience. Words From Our Residents.

“While downsizing, we asked ourselves for each item ‘do we need this,’ or ‘can we live without this?’ This was a great strategy for us because we realized how many things we would no longer need after living at Charter House.  This included tools, cleaning supplies, fitness equipment, and our large dining table.” – Amita H.

“Some people have lived in a house their entire lives and are surrounded by family antiques and have a difficult time separating. I think it can be hard on those who have workshops, offices, and craft rooms.  When they move from their homes, they feel a loss of personal space.” – Norma S.

“When leaving my home of 30 years, I started by giving my kids what they wanted.  Then I hired an auctioneer to sell my valuable items.  The rest I gave away to my church. In the end, our children will get rid of what we don’t, so this makes it easier for them.” – William J.

“I had difficulty parting from my coin collection and antique collection.  I have always been interested in these and have spent the better part of my life collecting them.  I was able to sell a portion of my collections, but the rest didn’t sell.  Even though my collections were meaningful to me, it didn’t mean they were meaningful to others.” – Ron T.

“I think we put off downsizing because we don’t want to face it, but it won’t get easier as we age.  It was time consuming, but I now feel a sense of freedom that I’m no longer tied down by my stuff!” – Rebecca C.

“It was a difficult realization that my children either didn’t want, didn’t need, or couldn’t take items I had always planned on gifting to them.  My daughter’s house is already fully-furnished and my son lives in a small apartment in Chicago and doesn’t have room for anything else.  Though my kids didn’t take many items, they took small mementos which made me very happy.” – Shirley A.

Tips and Strategies.

  • Start Early
    Take the time you need to go through your items mindfully rather than scrambling to go through them at the last minute before your move.
  • Know the dimensions of your new space
    This is an excellent way not only to determine how much you can bring, but to pre-arrange your furniture.  This will come in useful on move-in day.
  • Determine Your Items’ Actual Usage – Bring Only the Essentials
    Ask yourself these key questions for each item you plan to bring: What value will it add to my household? Will it make my life easier? Will I have a place for it? Will I want to keep it for a very long time? How difficult will it be to get rid of?
  • Categorize
    After you’ve answered these key questions, categorize items into keep, sell, donate, or recycle/toss.  You can sell items through a neighborhood app or social media.  You can bring items to consignment shops and antique stores.  If you have a large-scale downsize consider having an estate sale or an auction.
  • Enlist the Help of Others
    Whether it is from family, friends, or neighbors, it can be helpful to have someone put items in the categories above after you’ve gone through them.
  • Get Digital
    You can eliminate several items by going digital. Instead of requiring space for hundreds of books, consider using an e-reader.  If you have photo albums, you can scan your hard copy photos so you have them in digital format. You can keep your music on your computer rather than hard copy CD’s that require storing.

Read this post by Dr. Melanie Chandler for additional tips!

Have you ever downsized?  If so, what worked what didn’t?  What advice would you give to others?

Mon, Jul 1 4:23pm · Sidewalk Sale in Charter House

Join us Friday, July 12th from 10:00am-2:00pm for the Charter House annual Sidewalk Sale! Find unique treasures at great prices while giving back to the Rochester community. Items for sale will include furniture, appliances, books, plants, jewelry, clothing, and much more! All proceeds will be donated to the local nonprofits: Family Promise, Hawthorne Helps, Women’s Shelter & Support Center, and Thrive Child Care & Family Resource Center.

Mon, Jul 1 11:36am · Parkside Art Gallery in Charter House

Join us in our Parkside Gallery for the art exhibit opening of local artists Barbara Campbell and Craig Challgren! The exhibit, Look. SEE… and the colors dance, will be a mixture of fabric art and digital photography. Enjoy this free event located at Charter House – Mayo Clinic Retirement Living with wine, hors d’oeuvres, a gallery talk, and music provide by the CBB Jazz Combo.

Mon, Jul 1 8:00am · Cognitive Workout in Charter House

1 hello

As we age, we tend to fall into familiar patterns and routines that are not helpful for our brain. The most impactful benefit comes when you engage in a variety of activities each day that stimulate and challenge different parts of your brain. Your brain is challenged when you move outside your comfort zone. Engage in the arts or taking dance lessons. Exercise your memory and thinking skills by learning a new language; teach yourself a new word everyday, then use it!

We hear a lot about brain games these days. Most experts agree the key to strengthening your brain is to choose games you enjoy that are novel and provide you with a moderate to high level of challenge. Find games that continually test your abilities, so as you get better the games get harder. Select games that require concentration and a quick response. If you love crossword puzzles and Sudoku, choose those that get more and more challenging. Better yet, give yourself a time limit and try to beat it each time you play.

Expert Insight

“Maintaining healthy habits is central to preserving your health. Unfortunately, it is common to drift away from healthy habits in retirement. These changes happen in small degrees and may be related to stressors that fundamentally impact your physical and cognitive health. It is vital to place a priority on self-care strategies such as being physically active, engaging in pleasurable activities, and eating nourishing foods. Focus on making changes in your life that provide deeper benefits to your health. Incorporate a wide spectrum of healthy lifestyle choices into your daily life to manage your stress, improve your health, and maintain your cognitive capabilities. Then you can focus on living your life consistent with your values and engage in activities that bring you joy.” – Karen Grothe, Ph.D., L.P., Associate Professor of Psychology and Co-Chair, Division of Consultation, Department of Psychiatry & Psychology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.


Do you speak more than 1 language? What activities do you engage in that stimulate your brain?