Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Maybe That Rainy Day Has Already Come"

So many of us keep things that we no longer need to hang onto - just in case. These are for a so-called rainy day. But what if that rainy day has already passed?

Most everyone has things that they keep that really aren't that useful anymore. They may have sentimental value, and that's fine, but how valuable is a receipt or ticket stub from something that happened years ago? How about that hard to find bolt that we got a couple of extra of just to have - and now we aren't even sure where it is anyway?

Many homes have a so-called junk drawer in the kitchen, laundry room, desk, or dresser where we keep string, various screws and bolts (that may not fit anything that we have anymore), some commonly used tools (tape measure, hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, and utility knives, for instance), lubricants, tape of various sizes and types, instructions and warranties, and other similar items. We rummage through this drawer routinely as we are looking for something we need but often don't find it.

We have - depending on how long we have been collecting them and how handy we are - an assortment of hand tools. Some are broken and no longer need to be retained - it's easier to replace them that to hope to get them fixed someday. We have a collection of nearly dead batteries that have a little life left in them (but not enough to power what we removed them from), or rechargeable batteries that won't seem to retain a full charge anymore.

We have drill bit sets with the most commonly used sizes (one-sixteenth, one-eighth, three-sixteenths, or one-quarter inch, for instance) broken or missing from the set. We have chisels that are dull or damaged that don't work as they are intended when we need for them to do so.

We have a collection of spare parts that we have amassed over the years - many for items we no longer have or that are obsolete. When we needed a part that was hard to find or not that expensive, we often get an extra one - just in case - and now don't need it.

We have books that we have been collecting since elementary school - some are in such poor condition that they can barely be handled, and some are in mint condition that have never been opened. Many of them have been replaced by newer versions or ebooks.

How many of us still have vinyl phonograph records, encyclopedias, video tapes, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, or CDs - often without the means to play, listen, use, or watch them? 
Some of us have medicines that were expensive at the time we purchased them so we held onto the extra ones - now they are dangerously outdated. Would we even know what to use them for anyway?

How about all of those crackers, cheese, peanut butter, cookies, and other items we purchased because there was a sale or we got them to have on hand for a storm or possible power outage? Would we feel comfortable still eating some of these items - especially long after the printed expiration date has come.

We have various items of apparel that we purchased in multiple colors or in a size larger or smaller (planning ahead) because we liked it so much at the time but now don't wear - and wouldn't likely use - any of them. Some of the items in our closet, dresser, in in storage boxes are so out-of-style that we wouldn't wear them, but they are just too good to toss.

We could go on with many other examples, but the point is that many of the items we have been holding onto - and many of the reasons we have been using for doing so - are no longer useful or valid. That proverbial rainy day may have come and gone.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.