There’s a place for everything and everything in its place when organizer Jo Golda helps clients revamp their living space.

There’s a place for everything and everything in its place when organizer Jo Golda helps clients revamp their living space.

Photo taken from Jo’s Organizing Facebook page

How seniors are clearing clutter to make room for living

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published February 13, 2019

METRO DETROIT — As we age, many come to realize that what’s truly valuable in life is stored within our hearts, not within our walls.

So when the kids fly the coop and the exciting and restful days of retirement approach, who wants to spend that well-deserved free time dusting a big ol’ house full of stuff that’s been acquired over the years?

Jo Golda, of Jo’s Organizing in Rochester Hills, has been helping families get their stuff in order for years. When it comes to helping aging clients pare down their belongings so they can move to a more manageable-size home, clients often don’t have a problem deciding if their belongings are still functional for them, she said.

The question is usually whether or not an item has sentimental value.

“Most of the time they have too much furniture and a lot of collectibles” for a smaller home, said Golda. “It’s always, ‘Oh, that’s nothing. Throw that away,’ or ‘Well, someone gave that to me. It has meaning.’ There’s usually no in between.”

Golda often helps clients who are downsizing to carefully eliminate unnecessary belongings from their home by putting them out with the garbage, donating them to charitable centers like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, or maybe passing them on to family and friends who might get some enjoyment from the pieces.

If plenty of goodies remain and they’ve got some good life left to them, Golda said estate sales are a nice way to part with clutter when it just feels wrong to toss it.

“I also have a good relationship with (junk haulers). They’ll go into the home and get an item, like a washing machine or stove that might be down in the basement, and move it away quickly. It might cost a little more, but it’s gone.”

When clients are ready to move on to more efficient pastures, Realtor Nancy Robinson, with Century 21 Town & Country, takes over and helps families find just the right abode for them. That takes more than just perusing amenities at condo communities, Robinson will tell you. She’s certified through the National Association of Realtors as a senior real estate specialist.

“It’s a program that makes me able to work with seniors more intelligently, because they can be very different than first-time homebuyers. But in some ways, they’re the same too, because many of them haven’t bought a house in 50 to 60 years.”

When older people decide they’d like to downsize their living space — and it’s their decision, not a concerned family member’s insistence — Robinson said most buyers look for something with first-floor living and less square footage. When that’s not available, she helps her clients to envision how a property could work for their needs.

“They don’t want stairs, but that can take many different forms. You can go from a large colonial with all the bedrooms upstairs to a small bungalow with two bedrooms down and one up. Or a ranch with all the bedrooms on the same floor, and most people favor that,” she explained. “But if you can take a place with a basement and convert one of the bedrooms into a first-floor laundry room, it’s just what you need.”

That’s for retirees who still want to do laundry at all, though. Many older buyers aim for an easier lifestyle, with most of their time devoted to socializing with family or new friends. At least that’s what Rachel Nagorsen sees as the sales and leasing manager of Lakeshore Senior Living in St. Clair Shores.

“It’s about making everything easier. You can still do light cooking and baking when you want, but you don’t need to keep your whole kitchen. There are more fun things to do than cook and clean. Go out to dinner with friends, sign up for activities and clubs, or just go have a cup of coffee with someone,” Nagorsen said.

That means that whether you’re moving to a ranch under 1,200 square feet or an assisted living community with minimal or substantial daily medical and living help, you don’t need all of the things that make a home — just the items that make it feel like home for you.

“What I’ve found here is that with a lot of residents, it honestly amazes me how they can make these places up. You’ve got some shelving, knickknacks, put some photos on the wall, and it really makes it feel like the home you’ve always had,” Nagorsen explained. “It’s those little things that make you feel that way, not so much the furniture.”