Long in the tooth. Senior. Older generation. Retiree.

Each time you look in the mirror there’s no denying it. The speckles of grey have become more of a covering. Each laugh line tells a story of a life filled with adventure; of highs and lows and everything in between. The time draws near. The time for you to downsize and simplify. To throw off the responsibilities and constraints of a long and full life. Whether you’re moving into aged care, a retirement village or staying in your own home, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Let me tell you a story about an older lady who is very close to my heart. She was born in 1928 in The Netherlands. She survived World War II. She was alone on her Wedding Day; her groom waited for her on the other side of the world. They started their new life together on a different continent, with barely anything to their name. They had five beautiful children and lived a wonderful life full of adventure and love. That beautiful lady is my Oma. Age has now taken its toll and her mind and body are failing her. Moments of lucidity become fewer and fewer but she is loved and well cared for.

Several years ago she suffered a fall and broke her hip. Her recovery was aided by the incentive of a trip to the homeland with our entire family. After this fall I was prompted to start helping her sort and declutter some of her possessions. She had moved from the family home 10 years earlier after my Opa had passed away and had kept everything since. There was so much stuff.

We slowly worked through her two bedroom unit, starting with her garage. The time spent together was so precious. We uncovered treasured possessions and mundane items alike, but the stories she shared were priceless. Not only were we sharing quality time together but we were achieving much needed decluttering and sorting. This meant that when she was no longer able to live independently we were prepared. We knew which items she loved and wanted to take with her to the bedsit. We knew which precious possessions had been bequeathed to various family members.

Instead of spending weeks clearing out her unit after she moved it was cleared in just days. Our preparation work had cleared the bulk and made the job that much easier. Her furniture and household items went to a local charity, who provide sanctuaries for families fleeing domestic violence. It was important to us that items no longer used or needed find a new home where they could find new life.

So why do I tell you this?

Not to impress on you certain realities you may have been avoiding, or to remind you of your mortality, but to present you with an opportunity. Get organised now. If you still have a lifetime of possessions or it’s been awhile since you’ve had a clear out, now is the time. Label the precious items you wish to bequeath. Look into aged care villages. Update your Will and Power of Attorney documents. Declutter the items you no longer use or need. Get help to do it if your mobility or energy levels are an issue. Engage a professional organiser – search for an organiser in your area at AAPO.org.au – and get organised.

The Boy Scout motto rings true. Be prepared. I wish you luck.

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