A Downsizing Diva client who had been living alone for many years, was preparing to move to a retirement residence. A year earlier she had come to the realization that she was lonely and needed to hear her own name, Eileen, spoken by people who knew who she was. Since she had outlived her friends and close neighbours and had no family nearby, over a few years she had developed the McDonalds habit. Her doctor, alarmed by changes in her health, began asking questions. Eileen’s answers surprised both of them. She had been eating at the same MacDonalds restaurant at least 4 times a week, usually for a late lunch, because the staff on that shift got to know her. They anticipated her arrival, smiled and seemed genuinely glad to see her. They called her by name and even asked about her cat and recalled bits of their previous conversations. In this McDonalds she felt part of a community, and in her own voice, as she related this experience to the doctor, she heard her need to have people around her who cared.
Eileen’s doctor helped her list things that contribute to wellness at any age, especially in later life. Of course, the list started with good nutrition, exercise, 7 to 8 hours sleep a night, activity and social interaction. The nearby retirement residence checked most of those boxes and she understood that she could truly benefit from the opportunities the residence offered. She felt hopeful that when she was ready this would be a good option. But in her mind she wasn’t “old enough” yet. However, the next annual checkup with her MD revealed that nothing had changed. Her health and safety were serious concerns. McDonalds was still her hub and her only exercise was her daily short walk to that location. She had to accept that Jeopardy and other television favourites topped her activity list and she still wasn’t sleeping well. Maybe it was time to make a big change.
That was when Eileen joined the 75% of people over 65 who are reluctant to move because they don’t know what to do with their stuff. This is a phenomenon studied by Dr. David Ekerdt, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at the University of Kansas and author of Downsizing: Confronting Our Possessions in Later Life. Dr. Ekerdt conducted critical research on the ways that people manage and dispose of their possessions in later life and he wrote that such a predicament now confronts tens of millions of Americans as the Baby Boom cohort passes into retirement and beyond.
We Divas see downsizing as one of the most challenging and yet rewarding parts of our service. When we helped Eileen release more than 50% of her household contents, some through sales where she collected at least a partial return on her investment, other things to charities where those in need benefitted from her generosity, her joy and relief were tangible.
Eileen has now moved and settled in her new community where “everybody knows her name”. She still visits her friends at McDonalds too, just not as often.
If you're looking for information about moving to a senior living facility, contact Downsizing Diva today. We specialize in helping seniors move.