Charter House

Welcome to the Charter House page! Charter House is the world’s only Mayo Clinic Retirement Living and is located in Rochester, Minnesota.

In these pages we provide you with helpful resources that enable you to age in a healthy and purposeful way. You’ll find insight from Mayo Clinic experts, wellness tips, and personal stories about aging well. Follow us as we discuss steps you can take to improve your overall well-being.

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Sun, Sep 15 12:00pm

Right-Size Your Home

By Aimalicia Staub, MSW, @aimaliciastaub

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?

One reason for downsizing difficulty that was touched on very briefly is that many of us grew up with very little. That stuff that we have accumulated can become locked up with our very identity. Emotionally challenging, indeed.

COMMENT

Very true for me! I packed up boxes of very good "stuff" in order to do a very quick sale and move fro. my home due to discovery of brain tumour. The boxes and furniture and painti gs were put into storage but several years later when I could no longer afford 2 large storage units, I had to face unpacking & dealing with the memories contained
Decisions needed to be made – very hard on me. I tried to do 3 boxes a day. Some days I couldn't finish one & some times I could fi ish 4/5. In most cases, the contents had nothing to do with money. But being a singe senior facing death, I had to take responsibility for these boxes of memories

COMMENT
@sheridonaldson

One reason for downsizing difficulty that was touched on very briefly is that many of us grew up with very little. That stuff that we have accumulated can become locked up with our very identity. Emotionally challenging, indeed.

Jump to this post

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.

COMMENT

I am in my early 70’s and will be moving in about 9 months with my husband, mentally challenged adult daughter, 2 cats and a dog, from a home we have been in for 48 yrs and raised our 4 children in. We want to downsize both home and garden. We will be moving away from our youngest son and family and will be close to our middle son and wife who will be responsible for our daughter when we can no longer care for her. We plan to move into a mobile home park so that I can have a small flower garden and hopefully find a park that accepts our animals. We will leave a home with 8 rooms and an attached Mother in law apartment, that we rent out.
I have started putting things I don’t need into a box, so I will look to this site to get helpful ideas and ways to make this easier.
Thank you, Emy.

COMMENT
@emyliander

I am in my early 70’s and will be moving in about 9 months with my husband, mentally challenged adult daughter, 2 cats and a dog, from a home we have been in for 48 yrs and raised our 4 children in. We want to downsize both home and garden. We will be moving away from our youngest son and family and will be close to our middle son and wife who will be responsible for our daughter when we can no longer care for her. We plan to move into a mobile home park so that I can have a small flower garden and hopefully find a park that accepts our animals. We will leave a home with 8 rooms and an attached Mother in law apartment, that we rent out.
I have started putting things I don’t need into a box, so I will look to this site to get helpful ideas and ways to make this easier.
Thank you, Emy.

Jump to this post

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.

COMMENT
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