What To Keep And What To Let Go

We are in the midst of a major remodel. We are splitting our two-story classic Victorian home into two flats. One of the first obstacles to overcome in getting ready to move from a two-story house to a one-story flat is dealing with the amazing amounts of "stuff" we have stashed into every nook and cranny inside the house.

This brought to mind a project on which my colleagues and I have been working in marketing an assisted living community. Retirees who are thinking about moving into an assisted living community often stumble at paring down their “stuff” to a manageable amount. Deciding what to hold onto and what to let go of can be intimidating. What about all your children’s artwork from school? How about all those plastic containers you saved because, well, why did you save those?

Seriously, we want to hang onto some things purely for sentimental reasons. That's fine, but then you need to let go of all the rest. My mother is doing this as we speak. Last time I saw her she gave me a box of things I made for her during my first three years of grammar school, including a ceramic ashtray fashioned into the shape of a turkey, kind of. Since she hasn’t smoked in decades, it is no practical value. She kept it because she enjoyed the idea that I made it just for her, but now she can live with the memory of it, and I get to decide what to do with it!

Helpful Resources

How do you get rid of the mountain of things you have accumulated over a lifetime? Fortunately, there are lots of books, articles, websites and videos that can guide you through the process of decluttering. Family Circle has a wonderful article called “18 Things You Can Get Rid of Today”.  It’s funny, informative and definitely a place to start. YouTube is another great resource. I came across a comprehensive video on decluttering that includes some psychological advice as well as practical tips for organizing and then purging unnecessary items from your life. And finally, don’t forget about my mother’s sneaky way of getting rid of things without throwing them out. Give them to your kids!

Verve Marketing is a Bay Area branding and advertising agency that specializes in marketing to seniors and boomers. Most of our work is in the fields of medical technology, diabetes, senior living, nonprofit and disease management. 

About the Author: Duff Reiter has written for national and local publications on the subject of aging since 1994.