Contributed by Mary Meier, Fellowship Senior Living

Whether you leave your current home or stay, there are reasons you should downsize and declutter now.

Reorganizing your prized possessions and discarding those that are no longer meaningful allows you to access the treasures you keep more easily. If you decide to move to a smaller home or retirement community later on, you will have reduced your workload a bit by removing nonessential items in advance.

Downsizing creates a safer home environment. A fall in the home can seriously impair your mobility. Removing clutter from your living spaces reduces tripping hazards. If you do become disabled as you age in place, your home will be better suited to your needs.

Be considerate of your heirs, who will oversee the disposal of your belongings. Just as keeping your will updated is critical, downsizing now protects your loved ones from facing a very difficult task. Have frank conversations with them about possessions you wish to pass on to them. You may find that no one is interested in your best china.

Where to begin? Most of us don’t look forward to hours of sorting through our belongings. This is especially true of older adults who have lived in their homes for decades. Your home is full of memories and a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff.

A common piece of advice is to tackle the job in small steps and find what works best for you. For instance, work in one room at a time, clean out one drawer at a time, set a time limit of ten minutes or one hour at a time. You get the idea. The key is to be flexible to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Another tip is to work with three boxes or three piles to keep, discard and donate/sell. If you’re indecisive or have physical limitations, ask for help. Sometimes it’s good to have someone nearby who isn’t emotionally attached to your belongings.

Consider hiring a professional organizer. An objective point of view can help you answer the question, “Do I really need to keep this?” An organizer will do the heavy lifting such as sorting, packing and preparing items for sale or donation.

One more thing to remember as you begin the task of downsizing the possessions of a lifetime: your memories will always be with you, wherever you go.