Plan for Aging: The Great Purge

Do you have a lot of stuff? You know, the stuff that hangs around in boxes in the attic, basement, garage, or tool shed? The stuff that often accumulates and grows with each passing year?

As we think about getting older, an important consideration while you’re young and healthy is what we like to call, “The Great Purge”.

When you are no longer able to care for yourself, it may be too late to go through your belongings. Leaving behind a house full of stuff can be overwhelming for family and loved ones, not to mention, it can often lead to internal family feuds over items not documented in a will.

As you plan for long term care, set aside time to go through your valuables and identify who should receive them. If you don’t want to give items to family or friends right away, make sure your wishes are clearly defined in your will.

Items with little or no sentimental value or need? Time to get rid of them. Invite your children and grandchildren over to choose a few things they want for memories. Then schedule a garage sale or post items online for sale. The more you can purge now, the less there will be to go through and clean up later when you are no longer able to.

5 Tips for “The Great Purge”

  1. Go room by room. Make a list of each room and create a plan for completion. Start in one room and go from top to bottom, left to right. Don’t forget the attic, basement, garage, and any outdoor sheds.
  2. Separate items to keep, donate/sell, or give away to family. Designate boxes for unnecessary items to throw away, donate, or sell. Make a separate box for items with sentimental or financial value to pass down.
  3. Take breaks. Purging after years or decades in a home can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Aim for one room a month, or more if rooms are small. Even 15-20 minutes a day or an hour a week can help make a daunting task manageable.
  4. It’s okay to let go. We all know we can’t take anything with us when we go. While certain items may hold sentimental value, if your old books, picture frames, figurines, or storage containers are just collecting dust, it’s time to find them a new home. While some things may be hard to let go, keep in mind someone else will be going through your stuff later. You might as well be the one taking control.
  5. It means a lot to receive special items now. When you give things away to your children and grandchildren now, they’ll remember it. It means a lot to be given special items while you’re healthy and alert. Those are the memories that stick with your loved ones for years to come.

At LTCI consumer, we believe in being ready for the future including planning for your long term care needs. Learn more in our resource center.