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Advice from my favorite simple living book: "Travel lightly after 60."

One thing that I think helps is to walk around everywhere and immediately get rid of the things that are easy to decide about, before you even begin the more difficult choices. It visually reduces what you have to deal with (and for me, cutting down on how overwhelming the task looks to any degree is really helpful!)

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Now that I’m retired I often travel from TN to Ohio to stay with my elderly in-laws to help them downsize and de clutter. Her daughters had been trying to do it, but they’d get frustrated and annoyed over their parents unwillingness to part with “stupid stuff” and nothing was getting done. My in-laws are not hoarders, but have lived in same house for over 60 years and have a lot of things. Sooooo, I sat down and watched several episodes of Hoarders on tv and gleaned tips from the professionals they bring on to assist. It was extremely helpful!
I started out with having them relax in their chairs and I would bring a single drawer out and sit in front of them and go through every single thing, piece by piece. I had set up piles for keep, discard, donate, and “come back to”. If they couldn’t quickly decide what they wanted to do with something we would put it in the “come back to” pile and keep going. It really kept the stress down and it does get easier as progress is made and by the time we’d get back to that pile they were in the mood to discard it all.
I definitely used the time to talk/listen and reminisce and learned so much more about them. We have loved our year of doing this and they recently told me that I now know more about them than their own children.
To be honest, there were times I was ready to scream, lol, but just keep a positive attitude and have fun with it and enjoy their stories and memories.
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May I gently disagree about not renting a storage unit for aged parents' 'stuff' when they need to downsize. For our parents it was the key to a smooth transition to their assisted living community. They were not hoarders, but after living in many countries they had a lot of things! They were distraught to think that their cherished items would be discarded or donated. We siblings accepted cheerfully all of the items they gave to us, and without comment did what we felt best with them. But still there was so much.

They did a surface clear-out with us, then chose what they wanted to take with them to their new home. We told them that the rest would be stored ''in case they needed it.'' Of course they needed nothing over the next years, but the storage unit rental was our gift to their serenity. After they passed away, we emptied the storage unit.


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