“Right-sizing” one’s living space ...

Carlisle, Pa.    Thursday, May 30, 2019

You most likely have heard of the Atkins Diet, but have you heard of a Space Diet?

This step-by-step “diet” plan for the home is one of numerous approaches described by leaders of free public seminars frequently hosted by Diakon senior living communities. This diet focuses not on weight but on downsizing one’s home, especially in times of transition.

Carolyn Doerr, a certified relocation and transition specialist who owns Caring Transitions of Mechanicsburg—as well as a former staff member of the Diakon Corporate Communications office—led one such presentation recently, providing tips and guidelines for anyone looking to tackle even the most difficult home-organization projects with confidence.

The concept, she says, is really about right-sizing your living space.

“So many people have lived in the same home for 20, 30 or even 40 years and the accumulation of things is overwhelming,” she says. “They can’t wrap their head around moving into senior living or a smaller location because of all their stuff.”

In fact, a 2012 UCLA study noted that managing the volume of possessions in our homes is such a crushing problem that it elevates the level of stress hormones. In older adults, this situation reportedly can contribute to memory impairment as well as such side effects as fatigue, depression, trouble eating and sleeping, aches and pains and weight loss.

“It is the most emotional situation you can ever be in ...”

For those people who do want to get started on their own, the Space Diet outlines how to pare down collections to a manageable size, deal with paperwork mail, and things that have emotional value, such as greeting and holiday cards.

The key, Doerr says, is to categorize possessions into groups that we need, love and want.

“A good space will have only what we need and what we love and a little bit of what we want,” she says. “A great space will have only what we need and love.”

Doerr notes that working with a company like Caring Transitions can benefit those people who don’t have family members to help or who just want to leave the work to the professionals.

“That is where a company like ours comes in and can deal with the whole house in a matter of days or weeks,” she says, adding that the first step is to meet with clients and determine exactly what they need. “We ask questions such as ‘where are you going? and ‘what will you be doing?’”

Getting people to think about these types of questions is very important, according to Elaine Leist, who attended a seminar at Cumberland Crossings, a Diakon Senior Living Community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“Everybody needs to hear this [presentation]. I’ve been thinking about this topic for eight to 10 years, trying to plan for the future,” she says. “It is the most emotional situation you can ever be in, unless you plan for it.”

That is why it helps to work with someone who can help manage the process when it comes to parting with special belongings, according to Doerr.

“Some people are happy to share their memories and get one last chance to look at them before putting them away. Others want to pack it all away and take it with them,” she says. “That is where we step in and manage the process—something a move team can do especially well. They spend a lot of time with clients helping them take the right amount of their stuff to their new location.”


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