Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Three Issues With Holding Onto Things Long-Term: Issue Number Three"

We stand in front of our closets staring at what is hanging there. It occurs to us that we don't really see anything to wear or nothing really appeals to us. Clearly, there is something we can wear - out of all those clothes there is something that we can put on unless it is too small, too large, or the wrong season for it. It's not really a matter of having nothing to wear - as we often feel - but that nothing seems fresh or interesting to us. We have worn that same outfit so often that we are tired of seeing ourselves in it, even if others approve.

Now we have a choice. If literally everything - or nearly so - of the clothes hanging in our closet is something we will not or don't want to wear, why do we still have them? Unless our attitude changes by the next time we enter our closet, those clothes are still going to be unacceptable to us.

This brings us to the third part of hanging onto items long-term. We already have looked at how we acquire things - and that really sneaks up on us a little at a time until one day we way more stuff than we ever imagined. In fact, we have too much to deal with effectively. That is one of the main reasons people don't move and age in place - they can't deal with paring back their stuff or taking it someplace else.

We talked about where we keep things that we hold onto and how some of us attempt to organize our items while others just put them wherever they can find space at the time. Being able to locate what we have stored when we need it is a very necessary and important part of keeping things in the first place. If we knew that we were never going to look at something again but just wanted to keep it anyway, it would lose much of its draw for us.

Now, that third part - using items before they spoil, expire, deteriorate, or no longer work. If we literally have lost track of things that we have been storing and hanging onto - to the point that we are surprised when we run across them - they really aren't doing us much good. Likely (and people can have different opinions than this) the two main reasons we hold onto something is because it is important to use because it represents a certain milestone in our lives (an award, photos, certificates, newspaper articles that mention us, souvenirs, and similar items), and because we plan on using it again. There also are those things that we keep because we don't know if and when we might want to use them again so we hold onto them just in case the occasion arises.

That said, not finding something until long after its useful or functional life is past is not helpful, It has been retained and occupying a space in our overall storage and now cannot be used. We feel a little cheated that we didn't get to use it as we planned. This can be foodstuffs that we purchase because they were on sale, something we used to love to eat but moved away from, or something we purchased in bulk because we were using a lot of it. It could be clothing that no longer fits, that became damaged or soiled while it was stowed away, or a color or style that we bought for a certain occasion and then couldn't find it when we needed it.

There are so many things that we keep and put away - forgetting that we have them or where we put them - and then they have faded, turned color, shrunk, become obsolete, dried out, or no longer work as they did.

In addition to the issue of keeping things, finding places to put them, and then being able to locate them again when we need them, having them be outdated or no longer be serviceable when we do find them is a big disappointment. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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