The Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle for Seniors

By Kathie Boyd

Minimalist Life StyleMost likely, if you are thinking about moving into a senior community, or any move for that matter, you are finding it necessary to “size down.”  Fortunately, I have always been a minimalist at heart but until recently, I did not know there were books, seminars and websites that promote and encourage a minimalist lifestyle.  When I go on my annual weekend retreat, my pulse quickens with excitement as I step into my little room with a single bed, a sink (shared hall bathrooms), a bureau and a crucifix.  It takes me all of two minutes to put my stuff in the dresser and place my journal atop.   No wasted time or motion pushing volumes of clothes back and forth trying to decide what to wear. For two days I will live in a cocoon of material nothingness.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my house with all its rooms, furniture, paintings and more.  It does seem ironic, however, that in retirement, I now have a kitchen I wished I had when I was feeding a family of four and a walk-in closet that could accommodate a woman working three jobs.

The minimalist mantra before buying, selling or disposing of any item is: “Does this (fill in the blank) add value to my life?”   As a result of my answer, I donated over half of my wardrobe, including shoes and purses; culled my pots, pans, dishes, and glassware and given most of my books away.  I don’t think I need Black’s Law Dictionary, or any dictionary for that matter, ever again.

After only a few months, the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle have become apparent.  I have thrown out all my junk jewelry and am now wearing the “good stuff” that my mother gave me.  (What was I “saving” it for?)  I am wearing comfortable clothes and shoes.  (Those five pairs of spike heels that took up space in my closet now belong to someone else with very sore feet.)  I can usually find what I am looking for in less than two minutes which is a major accomplishment for a woman whose memory has not gotten better with age.  I don’t shop as much (either online or in-store) which frees up my time to walk, swim, meditate, pray and talk to friends which makes me a richer person in more than one way.

Now as I look around and evaluate all that remains, I realize how blessed I am to be a minimalist by choice–not necessity.  And, who knows?  Perhaps what I have discarded as unnecessary or frivolous has added value to another’s life–all except for those damn spike heels!

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