Downsizing in the Third Third of Life

This article is part of The Third Third of Life Toolkit—a collection of resources for ministry to and with people ages 55 and over, brought to you by two ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Disability Concerns and Faith Formation Ministries.

Many people in the third third of life have spent years accumulating things, adding on rooms, and filling their closets. Then, either suddenly or gradually, the family changes in size or someone develops mobility issues or the house becomes  just too big to care for and clean. How do you fit a lifetime of memories into half the space—or less? The resources on this page offer some suggestions for ways to approach the huge task of downsizing—and to feel good about doing it.

Articles

  • Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of My Stuff? This helpful blog discusses the reasons many of us have so much difficulty parting with things, and it suggests and explains the KonMari method of reducing the number of things we own.

  • Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kristy Quist takes an insightful look at Marie Kondo’s KonMari method and affirms the approach (perhaps short of praying for the house!) not only for third-thirders but for all of us. She says, “Kondo addresses something that Christians living in North American abundance sometimes fail to consider—the things we own have an emotional and spiritual weight. They weigh on us.” 

  • Downsizing Tips for Empty Nesters. Chels Knorr provides a helpful “how to” list for empty nesters and anyone else who wants to downsize.

  • Older Americans Planning to Downsize Should Brace for Sticker Shock. Because they are competing for smaller homes with couples just starting out, many seniors will be surprised that their new, smaller home may cost as much as their current dwelling. Experts suggest you should never downsize to anywhere you can’t imagine living the rest of your life.

Videos

  • Downsizing Your Life: Why Less Is More. Here’s a highly motivating TED talk by Rita Wilkins, an interior designer who experienced the joy of living with very little in Senegal. When she came home, she gave away 95 percent of her possessions and sold her big house.

  • How to Help Aging Parents Downsize is a helpful video about why it’s so hard for older people to downsize and how children and friends can help them with their plans to move to a smaller space.

  • Downsizing? Tips for Moving When You’re Older. This conversation with a realtor focuses on many of the questions and possibilities for seniors who are planning to downsize and move to a new location.

FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION

  • How might the church support older adults through downsizing and relocating transitions, especially those adults who don’t have children or whose children live far away?

QUESTIONS?

If you’re part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and you have questions about how to strengthen your church’s ministry to and with people in the third third of life, one of Faith Formation Ministries’ Regional Catalyzers would love to talk with you about ideas and strategies.

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