Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q:  I’m downsizing- what should I get rid of?

A: The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a time many people choose to “clean out the closet.” Downsizing is a significantly larger project, often done before a move to a new location. After living in a home for 30 or 40 years, you have likely accumulated many treasures.

Downsizing actually creates a great opportunity to pass on some of those beloved items.

Easy stuff first

Begin by sorting through your clothing and removing anything you don’t wear anymore or that no longer fits. Have you passed over it 365 times this past year? Be honest with yourself and only keep items you genuinely wear and enjoy. The same goes for accessories, such as jewelry, bags, belts, and shoes. A 50-year-old fur coat doesn’t do you much good in Florida. Old wedding dresses and ball gowns are ideal for the local theater company or high school drama department. Donating your beautiful things gives others a chance to use and enjoy them.


People collect all sorts of things: stamps and figurines, dishes, silver, jewelry and more. As a Care Manager, I have had to sort through the personal belongings of clients and determine what might be meaningful to distant family members. It’s disheartening to hear, “just throw it away.” Trust me on this: give cherished items and treasured heirlooms to the intended recipients now— don’t wait until the reading of your will.

Who you gonna call?

Many local charities and churches will be glad to pick up your charitable donations, including (and especially) furniture and household items. Professional estate sale groups can assist with large lots of items, or you can sell items yourself online or via a virtual estate sale. Many Realtors work with professional organizers who can assist with your downsizing project.


Paper has a way of piling up — fast. The IRS says only three years of tax returns need to be kept. Bank statements — one year (shred those old ones). Your legal documents should be stored together in a safe place in your home. Please give copies to the individuals you have named in your documents. Still mounds of paper left? Look for free shredding events after the holidays.

Parting with possessions and sorting through clutter can be daunting. Whether you’re tackling a single closet or a full downsizing, you’ll feel better about life once you’re done! When you’re in the thick of it, remember the old joke: “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.”

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.