Declutter & Downsize

This Week on Sage Aging

Downsizing and decluttering. Those are terms that can inspire all kinds of emotions! Some people relish the thought of simplifying life and making a fresh start in retirement, but for others, the thought of parting with the treasures they’ve held on to for so many years is almost more than they can bear. And still, others land somewhere between the two. It’s only natural to experience a wide range of emotions when preparing to move or to declutter your home, your house and your things hold years of memories of birthday parties and holiday celebrations, raising children, and visits from grandchildren. And it may feel like you’re leaving a piece of yourself behind, but you aren’t. And it doesn’t have to feel that way either. My guest for this episode says “moving changes an address, not a relationship.” And similarly, I’d say that things, as important as they may sometimes seem, don’t own our memories either. Those we hold in our hearts.

My Guest

My guest today is Deirdre Dolan Nesline, owner of DeClutter by Deirdre and host of the Magnificent Aging podcast. Deirdre, who is also a senior move manager, helps people who are ready to take control of their lives and develop solid systems that allow them to step away from the things and the stresses that no longer serve them. To learn more about Deirdre, be sure to check the Links section below.

My Biggest Takeaways

There is a lot more to decluttering than just getting rid of a few things. To declutter your space, you also have to declutter your mind and shed the attachments and perceived obligations that keep you from shedding things that no longer serve you. Dierdre says the first step in decluttering your space and life is to visualize what your ideal space and life looks like. Once you identify that, the actual decluttering is simple (though it may be a lot of physical work!). Find the next steps in episode 40 or keep scrolling for the transcript at the bottom of this page.

Links & Resources We Mentioned
Thanks for listening!

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Declutter Your Life

Episode 40

Recorded January 2021


people, life, declutter, aging, shoes, move, house, deirdre, liz, decluttering, walk, stresses, clutter, work, home, sage, creating, items, space, find


Liz Craven, Dierdre Dolan Nesline


Liz Craven  00:00

The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide. Your guide to all things senior care and resources. Find the 2021 guide in English and Spanish at


Liz Craven  00:26

Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. Sage Aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.


Liz Craven  01:03

Hello, and welcome to Episode 40 of the Sage Aging podcast. Downsizing and decluttering. Now those are terms that can inspire all kinds of emotions. Some people relish the thought of simplifying life and making a fresh start and retirement. But for others, the thought of parting with the treasures they’ve held on to for so many years is almost more than they can bear. And still others land somewhere between the two. It’s only natural to experience a wide range of emotions when preparing to move or to declutter your home, your house and your things hold years of memories of birthday parties and holiday celebrations, raising children and visits from grandchildren. And it may feel like you’re leaving a piece of yourself behind. But you aren’t. And it doesn’t have to feel that way either. Today’s guest says “moving changes in address not a relationship.” And similarly, I’d say that things as important as they may sometimes seem, don’t own our memories either. Those we hold in our hearts. My guest today is Deirdre Dolan Nesline, owner of Declutter by Deirdre and host of the Magnificent Aging podcast. Deirdre, who is also a senior move manager helps people who are ready to take control of their lives develop solid systems that allow them to step away from the things and the stresses that no longer serve them. By helping people to declutter, Dierdre helps them reclaim the time to enjoy life and all that it has to offer. To learn more about Deirdre, be sure to check the blog posts for Episode 40 at Or you can check the show notes in your favorite podcast app. You’ll find them there too. Welcome to the show, Deirdre. Thanks for joining me today.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  03:04

Liz, I am so happy to be with you. And I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about our favorite subject, which is elder Americans.


Liz Craven  03:16

Yes, I absolutely love any topic that has to do with our older adults. Because I don’t know for me, it has become a passion over many years. And I just love the wisdom, the creativity and the inspiration that I’m provided with every time I have an interaction with somebody who’s got a few years under their belt. They teach me so much.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  03:43

I agree. And Liz, let me just ask you when you were younger, that was always who I gravitated for the seniors in my life, my grandmother, their contemporaries. How about you? Same?


Liz Craven  03:56

I would agree for myself too. It was I always found myself more comfortable around adults, adults of any age. But I found fascinating the stories that my grandparents aged people would tell I just I don’t know the history of it all and just the storytelling. I think storytelling is something that really, I enjoy. I love to hear other people’s stories, I can just get enamored and the whole thing and in years past, storytelling was much more central in our lives. I feel like we’ve lost some of that because of technology, but the storytelling that you would hear when you would talk to your grandparents or other older adults in your life, it was just amazing to hear the detail that they would describe their lives with and they could remember every smell and everything they saw and everything they touched in the stories that they were telling. And I think that was just so intriguing and inspiring too to me.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  05:01

And I wonder if it’s because they didn’t have all this stimulus coming at them like we have today.


Liz Craven  05:07

Probably they didn’t have video games that were taking up their time. And TV wasn’t what it was, what it is now. I mean, now you can find everything on television. And that’s great. It’s a lot of fun. And I love watching things on television. But I think entertainment was more family centered in the past.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  05:28

And what would that be like to get back to that to actually have people come over? I have some of my clients, you know that they’ve gotten stuck in that cluttering and hanging on to things because they’ve lost other things. And they no longer have people over. And it’s very isolating, obviously, for them. And it sometimes turns into kind of a depression, as well.


Liz Craven  05:54

Yes. And, you know, that leads me to a great quote that I chose to set the stage for today’s conversation, we do tend to as people attach our happiness and our well being to things, but I found a quote by a Greek philosopher named democritus. He says, happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold. Happiness dwells in the soul. Beautiful. Isn’t that great? Perfect?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  06:27



Liz Craven  06:28

I was I was like, wow, you know, that just really captures the essence of today’s conversation. We do as people tend to place so much value on the things that we own, you know, we compete with each other to gather all of these things all of our life. And then this time comes in our life, when we start to look at those things and say, Why on earth do I have all of these things cluttering my mind and cluttering my space? And we start to turn in a direction where we want to simplify a little bit. And that’s where we are today.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  07:06

Great, and I think that until you address the value of things, as opposed to what’s in your soul, you can’t move on, you have to address that. First, you have to take control of your own life, and decide what really is important. And I think a lot of people because we’re moving so fast, and there’s so much going on, that pulls our attention away. If we just sit down, concentrate, write it out, and then move forward instead of trying to jump in with all these other stresses and things pulling at you.


Liz Craven  07:48

That’s awesome advice. Well, hey, before we get into all of the How to and the practical part of our conversation today, I’d love to know a little bit more about you tell me about you and your life. And how did you get started in your current business?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  08:05

Oh, thanks for asking. So what I was, I was helping friends and their parents, they would you know, they would say, Hey, can you help my mom do x? Can you help my mom do her checkbook pay her bills. And I really love that challenge of finding creating budgets for people finding hidden money, you know, places where we could say like, perhaps they’re paying for a third cable box when they only had two televisions in the home. So I enjoy doing that. But I couldn’t figure out because my degree was in business. And it wasn’t in finance. I thought who’s going to hire me for this? So I’ve talking to a friend about it and saying how much I love working with seniors, helping them find their hidden money. And she said, Well, what if you became a senior move manager? My friend does that. Would you like to chat with her? So I chatted with her and I thought, okay, that is right up my alley. And that’s how I got started.


Liz Craven  09:03

A passion brought you exactly where you needed to go.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  09:06

Exactly. That’s how the best things in life workout, right?


Liz Craven  09:10

I think so. Yeah, I think so. So as a kid, were you one of those kids who was super organized, or did you have the very messy room like I did?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  09:21

No, I did not have a very messy room. Everything was put away. Now. Were there times in my life where I would throw things on two twin beds in my room. Would I throw things on the other bed? Yep. But all in all, no, my room is very neat. It was very structured. And that’s the way I liked it. And still, to this day.


Liz Craven  09:46

I’m more I’m more organized now than I was as a kid. Now. Having said that, my piles were organized. If I had something in a pile, I knew exactly where it was. And if somebody moved my pile, I was in trouble.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  10:00

Yeah, well, I think mine was a bit of laziness as well, because even now, I can’t stand moving things like on a counter or up on a bookshelf, I can’t stand moving at all to clean it. So if it’s clean, I can just do one swipe, I’m done, move on to the next thing.


Liz Craven  10:17

I’m getting better. I also used to hold on to things. And I don’t do that so much anymore. Still a few but not like I used to a few years back when we all heard about Marie Kondo, you know, I was like, Well, I’m going to figure out what sparks joy in my life in this house. And my husband and I both decluttered a lot. And I think it’s time to probably go through and do that again. But it really is freeing. It is amazing how decluttering your space can change how you feel about your space and about your life. And it affects everything.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  10:58

And it’s so interesting that you say that, because a lot of people think that way. And they think, Oh my gosh, that’s going to hamper my freedom. No, it gives you more freedom, the feeling that you get after you’ve decluttered is so euphoric compared to the fear that you experience before you even get started. But it’s hard to see what’s on the other side, just like most things in life.


Liz Craven  11:22

Well, and I think too, because our conversation really is directed toward older adults today. I mean, obviously, it’s true for all of us, but especially for somebody who’s in that stage in their life, where they’ve got a lot of big changes. So it might be that it’s just time to downsize and move to a different home because they can’t handle the day to day maintenance. Or maybe they have health issues and concerns that don’t allow for them to live independently anymore. And they have to go to live in assisted living community, it could mean all kinds of different things. And so I would imagine that for that group of people, this decluttering process, and this downsizing is a change, that’s almost unbearable, because it kind of takes us to that place where we’re recognizing we’re on the downhill side of life. And that’s tough.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  12:20

That is tough. And a lot of people do have that. But more often than not, they understand where they are, they have the wisdom of age, and they understand my life has changed, it’s gotten a little bit smaller, I want to preserve what I have left in a joyful manner, as Marie Kondo says, have more freedom to see my family and time, because clutter takes up a lot of space and a lot of time in your brain, which you really don’t realize until you get on the other side of it. But if you start now to think about it, because you do have to have some kind of thoughts about what you’re going to do in the future, if that’s what you’d like. And if there’s things like you listed, that are happening, you know, you don’t need the big house, the bills are getting to be overwhelming. You have some serious illness, perhaps you’ve lost a partner or a spouse, huge changes in your life that cause other changes. But they’re not always bad, they’re good many, many times. It opens up a whole new world to you.


Liz Craven  13:39

And I love your messaging about a change of address not changing a relationship. Tell me more about what that means to your clients?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  13:50

Certainly. Well, a lot of people think that, Oh, I can’t, I can’t move because my life is going to be over. I’m not going to see my friends that I saw my neighbor that I would say I’m not going to go to the same dry cleaner and see that person. But it doesn’t mean that just because your address changes, doesn’t mean you still can’t have some type of relationship with that person, whether it’s by handwritten letters, email, telephone calls, house party, whatever form works for the two of you that you can figure out, you can still preserve pieces of that relationship, it might not be the same. You might not see your dry cleaner every two weeks or however often you go. However, you can send them a Christmas card, you can give them a call and just say hey, I was thinking about you. And the same with other people in your life. But you also can’t look at what you’re losing. You have to look at what you’re gaining with less stresses involved in let’s just say a bigger home. Let’s say you’re moving from a larger to a smaller dwelling, you don’t know what’s coming what’s before you, it can be really, really great, really exciting, it may expand and open up your world. And that’s what I mean by that. It just your address changes, but your relationships don’t have to change. And I think a lot of people have fear built around that.


Liz Craven  15:22

I think a lot of people have fear built around everything. Fear, isn’t that something that we tend to always consider first, when we have changes in our life? You know, the things that are unknown scare us a little bit, but we can get beyond that.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  15:39



Liz Craven  15:41

So let’s talk about what happens when someone’s ready to take that step to either declutter their space, or to make a move, I would imagine that that takes a combination of practical 123 steps and coping strategies. How do you approach that with a client?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  16:01

That’s a great question, because because of those things, that the life events that I was talking about, sometimes you have a short period of time, and you don’t even have time to think about moving and it is what it is, you know, we’ve moved people that are in the hospital, and then they get sent to a rehab to recover. And then it’s the decision is made that they perhaps no longer can live on their own. So someone has to take care of all the items in the house. And you don’t want to get to that point, because then you’ve kind of lost control over it. What we currently do, is we use technology, though, which is absolutely fabulous. So let’s say that you fell, and now you’re in rehab, and you’re and you’re going to be going to personal care community. And you need to declutter your home, because it’s going to be sold. So we can use technology, you could have your phone or iPad, and we could have a phone or iPad at the other location, and go through everything and declutter with you. So you still have control over what you’re doing. The other aspect is, when it’s not something traumatic like that, and something, you know, a quick life change. But you know that this is something that you’re going to have to look at, your family has moved away, let’s say your kids have decided that they’re going to go to a different state. Perhaps if you’re living in the north, the winters tend to pull on you that the shorter days and the cold, and just everything that you have to do putting on a heavy coat just to go outside. And so you’re kind of thinking about what am I going to do? So what I suggest is that you visualize what your ultimate life would be. You don’t have to know everything. But what would that life look like? Would it look like being in a home that’s on one floor? Would it look like having someone else drive you places or having services brought into your home? Would it mean walking on the beach every day? Would it mean living on a golf course and golfing every day? Would it mean living in a community with other people that you can form like a family bond, you know, perhaps getting a room in a house with other people, your age, or other homes in a community of people around your age to I think the first step is to visualize a calming space, where you would distress and what that life would look like. And then once you work on that, and that might take days, weeks, months, you know, it depends on what your timeframe is. But once you get that visualization, then we can start working towards that. Because until you’re ready, in your mind, that you’re going to move on that you’re going to choose to take control so that you don’t lose control of where you’re living. It’ll make the process so much easier. So that really is the first step is to visualize it, and then write it out.


Liz Craven  19:25

That’s really great advice. And that’s something if you’re not somebody who is good at writing things out, I often come across that people say I’m just not a journal or I’m not a writer, well record yourself on your iPhone, get a camera and speak to yourself and help yourself to visualize that way. It’s another strategy that you could use for that same visualization. But I love that part of it because it’s addressing the whole person. It’s not just a transaction of moving from one place to another.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  19:58

Correct. And you have control over Because somehow it just makes it easier for you to start putting the pieces into place. So once you visualize that, then get the help that you need from, say, a realtor or something, something that they can start looking for you once you’ve decided you’ve explored, you’ve decided what to do, then, is a great tip too, if you can find somebody else. to declutter with. That would be key. So I presume that you’re going to move to a smaller dwelling, you’re going to have to declutter, perhaps you have a friend that just wants to declutter as well. So if you can hook up with them, and you help declutter their home, and they help declutter your home, it makes that process so much easier to work in a team like we generally work in teams, we generally don’t work alone, because it’s so much faster.


Liz Craven  20:55

I love it. The buddy system.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  20:57

Yeah, the buddy system.


Liz Craven  20:59

A declutter, buddy, I need one of those.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  21:03

Yeah, that’s a great idea.


Liz Craven  21:07

Well, because it’s easier to let go of something when you have somebody else standing there going, Okay. I know you feel attached to that. But do you really need it? What? How when’s the last time that you picked that up? Or when’s the last time that saw the light of day? And usually, that’s what I’ll ask myself, when I’m holding on to something. Why am I holding on to this when this is like 10 years ago, these jeans are never gonna get on this body again. Get rid of them.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  21:36

Yes. And you know, the thing is, is in my philosophy is sometimes if you don’t touch those jeans, you can give them away easier because sometimes when you touch things, they take on magical powers, and all sudden you have to keep them, but touch it, you can move it along.


Liz Craven  21:58

Let’s talk for a minute about some really practical steps that people should start with when they begin their decluttering process. And I’m talking anybody know, regardless of age. So how do you start your process? Do you make several boxes or bags and title them? Or what’s the first step to get started?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  22:19

Oh, boy, that’s way down the line, Liz. What I do first is we walk around, take pictures of everything. Then we look at the places where the clutter accumulates, because it kind of seems that most people just have little, like areas of clutter. It’s not like the whole house would be cluttered. So we want to decide, what are you going to clean out, for example, you might walk in the house with your mail every day, and you throw it on the kitchen counter, even though you have an office, or even though you have a desk, or even if you have a corner of your bedroom, where you collect your mail and do your bills, but you throw it down on the kitchen counter every day. And then the next day you do the same, you do the same, you do the same. And then I come over and I say Liz, I thought you had a desk in your bedroom. Why is all your mail there on your kitchen counter? And you say, Oh, well, I just haven’t brought it there yet. So you have a repository to put this, but you haven’t put it there yet, you’ve decided in your head created a habit that you’re going to be putting it on your kitchen counter. So let’s take a look at where these clutter areas are and decide, well, where would it be best served. So the mail would be best served where your checkbook is, in your office, in your bedroom, on your desk, on your Bureau, wherever that is. So we want to put like items with like items instead of what’s an open spot on the counter. So that’s kind of how we move first is we look around we see where are these places? Where should they be actually contained instead of where they are.


Liz Craven  24:05

I’m wondering when you were walking through my house to see my mail accumulating on the counter. But seriously, I think that that is a very wise observation to make. Because we all do that, you know, you walk in the front door, you kick off the shoes, that’s actually more my problem than the male is the male typically gets where it’s supposed to go after a day or two. But the shoes, they land everywhere in the house always in a corner so no one will trip over them but they’re around.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  24:42

I think it’s creating an awareness. And the awareness is I don’t want my shoes in front of my living room couch. I want my shoes in the closet, in the little box and not there. So before you even get to that step to sit down and take your shoes. Because that the habit, walk into the bedroom and take your shoes off there. So you got to stop the habit and create a new habit in order to get that done. And it just conscious is being aware of it.


Liz Craven  25:15

So right, so this is essentially, we’re not just decluttering our space, we’re also decluttering our habits and our mindset as well.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  25:25

Correct creating new habits. Yep. And it’s new habits that are gonna make you happy. It’s not, you know, if you like, and you don’t mind your shoes being in front of your couch, then that’s fine. But if that’s something that you know, you don’t like, then change it. But you have to work at it. Because it’s not easy, you know, it takes time.


Liz Craven  25:47

Right? Well, then what comes next. So you’ve evaluated the space identified those areas where things tend to accumulate, what’s the next step in the process?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  26:00

Let me let me take a step back to just to talk about preparing yourself for this. Because if you just decide, I’m going to tackle my whole house at once, it’s going to be overwhelming. So just decide on one thing, like the shoes like the melee, I wasn’t sure if I was clear on that before. So I don’t want you to think just go and, you know, pick up stuff anywhere, just start in a small spot, because what also can happen is, you can get so overwhelmed, because you’ll walk into one room, and then you’ll see objects there. And then you’ll go to the next room and you’ll see objects there. And you won’t ever get rid of the shoes in front of the living room couch because you’ve been distracted. So it’s good to create some kind of a declutter project plan. And I know this seems like a lot of work. It’s not, it’ll take you all of 15 minutes to put everything in place. So when you walk around your house, and you look at all these, I really suggest that you write it down where you want to make changes, and then follow that path and stick to it so that you’re always pulling like items. For example, let’s go to your shoes. So let’s say you have shoes in your living room, you have shoes in your den, you have shoes in your dining room under your table, because you took your your shoes off there. So decide that today, you’re going to contain all your shoes in your closet where they belong in the little boxes that holds your shoes. So you’re going to go into each and every room and not be distracted by any other clutter. And you’re just going to pull shoes out of those rooms, put them in the closet, well well done, pat yourself on the back, because that’s a great start just doing that type of thing. And then your mail, bring that all in to wherever it should be and put it there, your glasses, same thing, go around the house and collect the used water glasses. It’s amazing where we put them because we think well, we’ll do that later. Or we’re doing this now. And we can’t do that. So go and collect everything. So you want to have all light things together, and process those things and create a system for yourself because then you don’t have to think about it. If you put a system in place, and you’re going to take care of all these items. And you’re going to stop and think for one second before you go sit down in the living room couch. And instead, go and sit down on the bedroom chair, take your shoes off there, put them away, put your slippers on, you will have success so quickly. You it’ll be amazing. And then you can have the joy of looking for other things to fulfill your time that give you absolute happiness.


Liz Craven  29:00

I like it. I think that it’s a very good practical way to de stress your life too. Because how many times do you walk into your house and just shake your head and just have to close your eyes and walk past that clutter? Thankfully for me, you know I’m an empty nester, so my kids are grown and gone. So we don’t have a lot of that anymore. But I remember when I would walk in the house and things were everywhere and particularly my youngest daughter, you always knew exactly where she was because there was a trail that she left behind you could find her and that drove me bananas. But I think a lot of people do that. You know you come home you’ve had a long day. You’ve got the kids to care for you’ve got mom and dad to care for you have all kinds of things going on in your life and it’s easy to leave that trail behind you. And creating these habits I can see where that takes that another level of stress away because It also takes something off of the task list, you don’t have to run around and tidy up the house because things are already where they belong.



Correct. Correct. And a lot of people don’t have people over because their home is such a mess. And they’re embarrassed by it, there’s a lot of guilt and shame involved. And it doesn’t have to be that way. And they’re overwhelmed. But I think they look at it as the whole house instead of just taking one object, or one drawer, or one box and working on that. And please don’t start with the junk drawer because people have a terrible issue with the junk drawer because that’s everything that they didn’t know what to do with. So if you’re doing this on your own, not working with a professional, don’t do the junk drawer first do like your Tupperware. How’s that?


Liz Craven  30:50

There you go? Pick an easy spot. I agree with that completely and probably don’t do your closet first. That’s that can be an emotional place. You know, you have all those things. How many of us have multiple sizes of clothing in our closet? And we just can’t get rid of that smaller wardrobe yet? Because we really think we’re going to get back into it again.


Liz Craven  31:16

So let’s shift gears for a second here and talk about when we’re trying to part with things, there will come a time that we find an item or two or five or six that were just having a difficult time releasing? And is it acceptable to keep yourself a small box Memory Box of some kind that has some of those? And how can we? How can we get ourselves to that emotional place where we can let go of enough of those things to make it manageable?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  31:50

We have to understand how that value was created is the value created out of guilt out of shame, out of a sense of obligation. So you really have to have a sit down with yourself and say, what why is this particular item important to me? And can I just keep one, I don’t want people to get rid of all their treasures. I want them to get rid of all their trash that their treasures that really are trash that they don’t need them. For example, let’s say you have a you know what, let me switch gears, okay. A lot of times, what I see people fighting over is, for example, the yellow chipped bowl, that they ate popcorn in growing up watching movies with their family. And then there’s another bowl, and that’s a blue bowl. And that’s really in pristine condition. And it just was always in the house. And it never got used. We treasure those things, one for the familiarity of it, but the other one for the usefulness and the familiarity. And that feeling of being with your family, watching a movie laughing, crying, enjoying time with those people. And the other one is just a bowl that was around all the time. So think about what is it that are that you’re valuing? What value are you putting on to objects? And do you really need the blue bowl? Because Yeah, it was always there. But the yellow bowl, had such great memories tied to it. Now, you even have to keep the yellow bowl. No, you can take a picture of it. I had one of my clients, obviously, she was a fabulous tennis player, judging by the amount of tennis trophies that she had. And so what we did with her is I photographed all the trophies so that she could have pictures of them. She chose the three that meant the most to her that she could display in her new home. And we donated the rest because some places will take them they take the little plaque off. And then they’ll award them to people in you know, all different settings. They use them and you just have to kind of call around and figure it out. So you have to decide, where’s the value actually coming from? Where’s that? Where is it tied to the emotion. The other thing that we see a lot of is people who have their grandparents items, their parents items, their spouse, or their partner’s parents items and their parents items. And now they’re the keeper of the family treasures and memories, but they’re really not because they have the memories that I highly suggest that they write down or dictate into something digital. And those can get passed on. Maybe save a few of them. The items, but you don’t need every single item, but a picture might help. The other thing is if you’re moving to a smaller spa, and you think, Okay, I’m going to put these five sets of China, three sets of flatware 21 Hummels, all the books into a closet that has two linear feet in it, it’s just not going to fit. So sometimes we’ll do if it’s really hard for somebody to visualize what they’re keeping or not keeping, or shouldn’t keep, I should say, will tape on the floor, what a two by two foot square looks like, and attempt to fit everything in that area, that’s a really good tip, it’s a really quick help to understand how much space that you actually have. And that helps a lot to win when we want to disperse items.


Liz Craven  35:59

That’s great. You know, I have a friend who she when she was downsizing, she had all this China. And you know, she didn’t have children of her own. And so she offered it to my kids and some others, friends, kids, and none of that none of today’s younger generation wants China, they just don’t use it. And instead, what she ended up doing is she ended up taking a hammer to all of it and creating beautiful pieces of mosaic art, yes, which was a great way for her to honor those things, and reuse them and recycle them to bring joy in a different way. And I loved that


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  36:40

I do as well, because then she can still enjoy them. Another tip is homeless shelters will sometimes take plates, they don’t generally take knives, they’ll take flatware, churches, you know, they have a lot of different get togethers and celebrations. So you just need to be a little creative and think outside the box as well.


Liz Craven  36:59

So one last question about the process of decluttering. And downsizing. When you’re working with a family who somebody in the family has dementia, how can you actually incorporate that person into the process? That’s a hard one.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  37:18

First of all, you have to understand where they are in their own capabilities. And I suggest you leave plenty of time to go through the process with them. Part of that process includes making sure that they have hydration and food because they sometimes forget to eat if they’re not on their own, or they forget to drink water. And they need that to help them make decisions. You need to be very cognizant of when they get tired. Or if they walk into another room. Don’t insist that they come back and help you declutter, you can figure out what they might need or might not need, you know, and if you’re a family member, you can kind of ask the different family members ahead of time, is this something that you’d like if mom or dad wants to get rid of it, and do that ahead of time so that there’s a plan in place, if they object, it’s their decision. So never give away anything that they’ve objected to, because it’s their possession. So you want to be respectful of that person in all decisions, as well as be very cognizant of what their needs are. So that you can get through the process without arguing and anger, and a lot of raging emotions. So those are my very best tips, don’t rush, be cognizant of what’s going on with them, and listen to what they say and what they want. And move forward from there.


Liz Craven  38:57

Very good advice. And I would add to that, that in any type of downsizing and decluttering, especially for an older adult, it really would be wise to get some help. It can be a really emotional thing for the entire family and having somebody objective in the room to help guide the process would be a very, very helpful thing.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  39:20

100% it provides a buffer and a lot of guidance to you and it makes it so much easier.


Liz Craven  39:28

Yeah. Do you have any favorite online resources that you send people to I know that you yourself have an award winning blog, don’t you?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  39:37

I do. Thank you for mentioning that. Yeah, I do. And I’m kind of moving over to more the podcast venue and putting that as my blog instead of the written word. Actually, I mentioned a book that I really love. And it’s called essentialism and it’s what is the basis The book is saying what is absolutely essential. And that’s it, focus on that. So if you focus on what’s essential, you can get through just about anything and do it quickly. And in a very effective manner.


Liz Craven  40:18

Wonderful. Well, I will make sure to link that also in the blog post and show notes for Episode 40. You can find that at Sage or in your favorite podcast app. So how can people who are listening find you dierdre?


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  40:35

I think the best way is, if they send me an email, it’s declared by dierdre is D, i r d, r e.


Liz Craven  40:46

Fantastic. I will also include that in the show notes. Well, thank you so much for being with me today. This conversation was fantastic. And I love how much practical guidance that you gave to listeners, in addition to the guidance about how to handle all of this emotionally, it’s a package that goes together. And I feel like you did a great job tying all of that together for us. So thank you.


Dierdre Dolan Nesline  41:12

Thank you, Liz, I really appreciate you.


Liz Craven  41:16

Oh, of course, it’s my pleasure to have you and thank all of you for listening. If you enjoyed our conversation today, and I hope you did, I hope that you got some practical good steps for yourself out of it. I’d really appreciate it if you would click Subscribe now and share the sage aging podcast with a friend. And I’d love to connect with you on social media. So come on over and look for us you can find Sage aging, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and you can find me Liz Craven on LinkedIn. We’re sharing all kinds of fun stuff on our social media. So make sure that you follow us to get that day to day interaction. And if you have any topic ideas you’d like to share, I would love to hear from you. We’re formulating our years worth of content right now. And so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a line at info at Sage Check back next week for a new episode. And thanks again for listening everyone. We’ll talk real soon.



Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.