Are you downsizing or simplifying?
As the years mount up I notice that my need for space seems to grow smaller.
I remember reading about this phenomenon many years ago when I was concerned that the elderly often seemed to be living in very small spaces. I wondered if they were content with what I perceived as a lack of space or lack of dignity. Of course, it is not that simple. Many factors come into play; changes in socioeconomic status, marital status, changes in eyesight, hearing, mobility and mental acuity.
There seem to be several studies in the past few years that deal with modifying living spaces with attention to changes necessitated by aging. These may allow more people to age in place (their own homes). Aging changes seem to be more important currently in architectural design and planning as well.
As I think more about it, it seems that a need for simplicity may be more accurate than a reduced need of space. I remember thinking about a Buddhist country where people, when they reach an advanced age, give away all their possessions, don a saffron robe, take up a beggar's bowl and adopt a nomad's lifestyle.
I've thought of it as downsizing but maybe it is simplifying. In my own case I see this in many areas. Some were driven by necessity, but many were by choice. Aging has changed my priorities. Instead of a hardship, I've experienced a new freedom with accepting a new simpler life.
Automobile: I'm now driving and enjoying a little Smart Car that is fuel efficient, easy to maneuver, powerful enough, has adequate storage capacity and takes up a lot less space.
Travel: Where once I was traveling to Mongolia, South Africa, Honduras, Greece and many places in Europe, I now travel yearly to Palm Springs for the sunshine during the winter.
Housing: Where once I lived in a large rather grand house, now I live in a small condo with a miniature garden area.
Books: Where once I had collections of so many books that my husband added a "book room" to our house, now I have a greatly reduced number of books. I read mostly on a Kindle.
Furniture: Where once I had massive furniture pieces that I was proud of, now I have far fewer and smaller pieces of furniture.
Collections: Where once I prided myself on having large collections of stamps, coins, china, crystal and silver, I now have trouble even giving these away.
Clothing: Although I keep donating clothing to clothing sales, charity, Goodwill or whatever, I still seem to have too many outfits. When I view pictures, I see that there are probably two or three outfits that I repeatedly wear. I could probably reduce my closet contents to five or six outfits.
Purse/Tote: Where once I carried a large purse, now I only use an organized fat wallet that holds my cellphone, keys, credit cards and many other items in a very organized and easy to access system of compartments.
Entertaining: Where once I enjoyed entertaining and cooking for groups of friends, I now eat in restaurants and only cook sporadically for myself.
Employment: Where once my identity was wrapped up in my nursing career or my musical career, now I spend most of my time volunteering. I see that I need a sense of community or "my village" of Lake Oswego.
Entertainment: Where once I enjoyed attending large parties, balls, concerts, state fairs, plays, and the like, now I prefer having coffee at one of our local coffee shops or lunch locally with one or two friends.
Church/Spiritual: I've even changed from attending a very large church where I sang in a 100-voice choir to a very small church where I feel almost a family connection.
I find that smaller takes up much less room and is much more manageable.
I suspect that my brain is also getting smaller. Now I only wish that my body was growing smaller not larger!
Esther Halvorson-Hill is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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