Decluttering in Our Autumn Years
‘Let the falling autumn leaves remind you just how beautiful it is to declutter’
Alejandra Costello (Professional Organizer and Life Coach)
Did you know that being surrounded by clutter is scientifically proven to negatively affect your health, and unsurprisingly, cleaning can be good for you? Decluttering “gives people a renewed sense of control over their environment,” explains Catherine Roster, PhD, director of the Behavioural Lab at the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who has studied the effect clutter has on our psychological well-being. “When people go through the process of decluttering, they feel a sense of freedom and liberation. It’s a reclaiming of a sense of mastery and control. They feel more competent and efficient.” Studies show that people experience a significant decrease in the stress hormone cortisol when items are removed, helping them to feel more stable, clearheaded, and relaxed. Autumn really is the best time for decluttering and tidying as we build up to winter and spending more time indoors. And, by the same token, as we approach our ‘autumn’ or retirement years – this is also an important time in our lives that calls for decluttering too.
However, decluttering for those of retirement age can be especially difficult. For many older adults, their homes literally contain a lifetime’s worth of memories – photos, children’s artwork, clothes in the attic, dusty old toys in the basement, furniture – the list is endless. Decluttering can be both physically and mentally taxing; even though, on the flipside, too much clutter can exacerbate anxiety and depression. Clutter is often the result of an overattachment to our personal items, which makes it difficult to part with them. It isn’t abundance that’s the problem as much as attachment to abundance. Many retirees face the task of having to declutter in order to ‘rightsize’ to a retirement community. Rightsizing literally means leaving a house that has outlived its purpose and relocating to a living space that is the right size and style for your current life needs; such as a retirement community for those in older age. Many homeowners choose to rightsize for retirement, when they have ample time to declutter their lives. The idea of rightsizing in retirement can be hard because it’s emotionally difficult for people to release their history and this can provide the worst anxiety associated with any move. For some, downsizing and decluttering is prompted by something negative such as health issues, the death of a partner or financial concerns. While others move in response to something positive, such as wanting to have more free time without the burden of maintaining a large family home, a desire to live closer to children and grandchildren, or to take advantage of the social aspect of retirement living.
Whatever the reasons, it comes as no surprise that many retirees feel inundated with the task of sifting through an entire household’s worth of belongings. This is a completely typical and expected emotion. Retirees often make the decision to rightsize by choosing the simplicity, convenience and many other opportunities that moving into a retirement community can provide. The fact is, moving into retirement living can be a wonderful, positive lifestyle change, and many retirees say that they wished they had done it sooner! But it is a lifestyle change that requires an adjustment in how we think about our living spaces and our belongings. Not to mention, moving to a retirement community can also save living costs. Living in a large family home may have worked perfectly, but as you get older, the advantage of all that space soon becomes outweighed by the disadvantage of large bills and the sheer effort needed to clear all the clutter and to maintain it. Another attraction of rightsizing is to release capital from your home, as well as keeping bills lower. It is estimated that the energy bills for a small house or flat will be just two thirds that of a medium house and less than half of the bills for a large house. Rightsizing will also help save on other expenses such as council tax and buildings and contents insurance.
Award-winning and internationally renowned retirement community operator, LifeCare Residences, pride themselves on providing retirees with vibrant places to live offering a full spectrum of five-star amenities and services that not only make your day to day living smoother, but also help to free up time that could be used to pursue new hobbies. It is also important to note that by moving to a retirement community such as one of those operated by LifeCare Residences, residents can enjoy an abundance of community facilities at their disposal. So, when you think about it in those terms, your actual ‘living space’ is not simply confined to your apartment. Many of the apartments and bungalows at Grove Place (LifeCare’s community in Hampshire) have their own balconies and terraces which residents greatly enjoy. Resident, Barbara Wood, not only relishes the many walks in the rolling Hampshire countryside, but also the ability to turn her hand to gardening. “Our apartment is on the ground floor, and we have easy access to a private terrace and the grounds beyond. This allows me to indulge my green-fingered gardening hobby in my own patch of Grove Place.” Residents at Grove Place can enjoy almost unlimited access to 27 acres of beautifully designed grounds within the Hampshire countryside – including a historical sunken garden, stunning meadows bursting with flowering plants and woodland walks with approximately 875 trees, as well as the New Forest beyond … and it doesn’t stop there. For those keen to get more actively involved outdoors, residents at Grove Park can enjoy the beautifully tended croquet lawns and even the immaculate nine-hole putting green. Additionally, both Battersea Place in London and Grove Place operated by LifeCare Residences boast well-equipped indoor gyms and heated indoor swimming pools which are only available for the exclusive use of residents and their families. Residents at Battersea Place can take part in onsite physical activities such as regular Pilates, ballet, reiki and meditation classes which are held in the fully equipped gym.
A resident of award-winning retirement community, Battersea Place in London, Virginia Darbyshire faced the daunting prospect of decluttering her family home when she made the decision to rightsize. However, she claims that it’s the idea of decluttering that is more daunting than the reality, as the results can be feel incredibly freeing. “I had lived in my last house for about 40 years, and quite simply, it had become too big. I knew I wanted a property that required less maintenance, which would enable me to invest in more time in my interests.” Her daughter Gaby agrees, adding, “The transition has been incredibly smooth, and it’s reassuring to know that there is help and support on hand should Mum need it. When we first visited Battersea Place, we were impressed with the standard and facilities on offer and in many ways, Mum now has a better quality of life than I do. It feels a little like a luxury hotel with its pool and restaurant and cinema.”
Taking the steps to declutter may initially feel arduous, but once you get started, you may feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulder. It’s an easy way to start afresh, and clear your mind; even more so at retirement age.
If you would like to learn more about our offering and how we can enhance the ‘every day’ please call 0800 009 6950. For those who are unable to visit in person, we are also able to offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.
LifeCare Residences. We care about living life.