Column: Aging: To share or save?


Commentary by Lorene Burkhart


We previously discussed making the decision to downsize, acknowledging that it can be a gut-wrenching experience. Now that the decision has been made, it’s time to tackle the distribution of a lifetime accumulation of furnishings, accessories, books, clothing, kitchen equipment – just about everything except the items you have selected to move with you to your new quarters.

It probably doesn’t sound like fun but it can be a wonderful experience when you plan plenty of time for it. Here is how I did it, I call it “Save or Share”.

  • Make a list, maybe take a picture of the furnishings that you want to Save for your new home; or that a family member has asked you to Save for them. Put a Post It on these furnishings and write Save with a bright ink marker.
  • Tackle one closet a day. Have plenty of boxes and plastic bags available. It helps to put a table nearby for Save or Share. Have a helper put the Save items in boxes. If you have two helpers, one can remove the items from the closet for you to make a decision while the other puts the items in boxes or bags. Also have on hand a marking pen, labels and sealing tape. It is helpful if some preliminary research has been done to determine potential charities for your “Sharing”. Check their websites or call to see if they provide pick up service or if you need to deliver. I found that talking to friends about downsizing was an excellent resource for ideas. (Coburn Place and Julian Center provide housing for abused women and their children; they may appreciate bedding, towels, clothing, books and toys.)
  • If you are emptying clothes closets, it is helpful to have a rolling rack where you can hang the items you are Saving. It’s a good time to check for cleaning or laundering. Whatever you “Share” with a charity is considered a donation for tax purposes so have a pad and pen handy for making a list. When the items are delivered be sure to have someone from that agency sign and date your donation list. Soft items such as clothing, bedding and linens can be vacuum sealed in plastic bags if you are shipping them.
  • Hard items such as kitchen utensils, dishes, china, glassware and silver require special packing materials so stock up on bubble wrap and save your newspapers.
  • Keep in mind that your lifestyle will be changing dramatically and that you will have limited storage space so Share, Share, Share!
  • If all of this sounds overwhelming, hire professional to take away everything you aren’t Saving. Or move first, leaving it all behind and let them work from your residence.
  • Now, let’s consider the valuables. If you have antiques, artwork and fine jewelry, you will need to contact professionals for appraisals, keeping in mind that you most likely won’t be able to sell them for the appraised value but the descriptions provided with the appraisals are very helpful. There are auction businesses that will look at your possessions if you call for an appointment. For your safety be sure that you have someone with you when anyone comes to your home. If you have valuable artwork or jewelry, you may want to move them to a safe location so you aren’t vulnerable for robbery.

Parting is painful but necessary so rely on your wonderful memories to sustain you. The next article will describe the process of dealing with photos and mementos.


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