Spring is ideal for ‘downsizing in place’

Tina Gorman, Director of the Westfield Council on Aging (WNG file photo)

WESTFIELD-For individuals ready to declutter their lives – a unique program will be offered by the Westfield Council on Aging later this month.

The two-part workshop series, titled “Downsizing in Place,” will be offered April 24 and May 1 from 1 to 2 p.m., led by Tina Gorman, director, Westfield Council on Aging. The program is free, however, advance registration is necessary due to space limitations.

“Downsizing in place allows the owner of the possessions to take his or her time and make thoughtful decisions about what to keep, sell, donate, give away or discard,” said Gorman. “Waiting for a health or financial crisis usually means giving that responsibility to someone else, often within a very limited timeframe.”

While the program is targeted toward older adults, Gorman noted that anyone can benefit from the invaluable information.

“Spring is a time of local tag sales, shredding events, and events like the Homeward Vets collection at Stanley Park,” said Gorman, adding, “it is the perfect time to start the process.”

One of the most interesting facts that Gorman plans to share with participants is there is 300,000 items in the average American home, according to Joshua Becker, author and editor of “Becoming Minimalist,” a website dedicated to inspiring others to find more life by owning less.

“We hear older adults lamenting about this topic all the time,” said Gorman, referring to the interactions she has on a daily basis with residents visiting the Westfield Senior Center. “I wanted to offer a program that encourages people to plan ahead and not wait for a crisis.”

Gorman originally offered this program last spring at the senior center, and has also presented the information at several professional conferences, including Aging with Dignity, the Massachusetts Fire & Life Safety Education Conference, and the Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA) Annual Conference.

The first workshop on April 24 will include a discussion on “Americans owning too much stuff,” as well as the psychology of possessions and accumulation, the “clutter culture,” and the concept of downsizing possessions without moving and good reasons for doing so.

“We will also discuss the reasons why downsizing in place is particularly difficult for older adults,” said Gorman.

The workshop ends with a homework assignment titled “Space-Hogging Items You Can Toss or Donate Without a Thought.”

The May 1 workshop will center on specific details of downsizing tips and the step-by-step process of proceeding. Color-coded handouts will also be provided.

“For older adults, the accumulation of a lifetime of possessions can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and a variety of safety issues,” said Gorman, adding that rethinking sentimentality and letting go of one’s emotions are examples of the quick tips she will share.

For more information or to sign up for the program, call the senior center at (413) 562-6435.

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