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Director's Message

Memory Clutter June 2010

Mauri recently passed along an article by Peter Walsh called “Rid Your House of Memory Clutter,” aptly accompanied by this quote from Olivian: The Age of Property holds bitter moments even for a proprietor. When a move is imminent, furniture becomes ridiculous, and Margaret now lay awake at nights wondering where, where on earth they and all their belongings would be deposited in September next. Chairs, tables, pictures, books, that had rumbled down to them through the generations, must rumble forward again like a slide of rubbish to which she longed to give the final push, and send toppling into the sea. But there were all their father’s books—they never read them, but they were their

Mauri recently passed along an article by Peter Walsh called “Rid Your House of Memory Clutter,” aptly accompanied by this quote from Olivian:

The Age of Property holds bitter moments even for a proprietor. When a move is imminent, furniture becomes ridiculous, and Margaret now lay awake at nights wondering where, where on earth they and all their belongings would be deposited in September next. Chairs, tables, pictures, books, that had rumbled down to them through the generations, must rumble forward again like a slide of rubbish to which she longed to give the final push, and send toppling into the sea. But there were all their father’s books—they never read them, but they were their father’s, and must be kept. There was the marble-topped chiffonier—their mother had set store by it, they could not remember why. Round every knob and cushion in the house sentiment gathered, a sentiment that was at times personal, but more often a faint piety to the dead, a prolongation of rites that might have ended at the grave. It was absurd, if you came to think of it.
                                                                       E. M Forster, Howard’s End PP. 140-141

I’ve addressed some of the hazards of clutter and hoarding in past messages. I want to focus on what I found unique in this article, which is the role that memories play in collecting. The box of your children’s art represents their childhood and your parenting years. The photos your father took represent him and your childhood. That hutch came from your childhood home—or your grandmother’s. There is a shelf of books you always intended to read, about things you always thought you’d master some day. Memories become a powerful force in our lives. They represent who we were and who we thought we’d become. But sometimes the things that are associated with the memories can fill all the spaces in our lives. Are you the “memory keeper” in your family? Someone has probably said, “you have to get rid of this stuff,” but you are immobilized and hurt, even if some part of you agrees. Contemplating letting go of these things evokes powerful feelings of grief and loss.
If our lives are filled with remembrances of the past, is there room for today and tomorrow? How can we find a balance between respect for the past and space for the future? Peter Walsh has these recommendations:

  • Change your focus from the objects to the space they occupy. Build an image of how you would like to use that space. Remove anything that is not consistent with the image. For example, a
    spare room filled with clothes you are not likely to ever fit into (or be fashionable again) will never
    be able to be your painting studio.
  • Think about the person or time these things represent and pick 1-2 favorite pieces. Think about ways you can display them to honor and enjoy that memory often. Don’t save the troubled memories.
  • Think about people who might benefit from the object if you give it away, whether family members or others who have needs. Pass the stories along with the objects. If you sell valuable items, get
    yourself something you will really need or value to honor the memories of the source.


Some families of people with dementia create “memory boxes” with photographs or memorabilia of important people and times in their lives to help anchor them when they become confused or to help caregivers know who they once were and use as conversation starters. A small display can contain a great deal of meaning. You won’t forget. Make room in your life for tomorrow. Life is full of opportunities to build new memories!


Susan Hoskins, LCSW

Previous Messages

GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!

Multi-generational Households

No One Ages Well Alone

Help at Home

Gratitude

November 2016 Family Caregiving

October 2016 Annual Report

September 2016 Corporate Healthcare

Strategic Planning

Is Your Home Age- Friendly?

May 2016 Director's Message Part 2 - We Need Your Help

May 2016 - Part 1 - Going Solo

April 2016 - Volunteering

March 2016 - Partners In Caring

February 2016 - PSRC's Strategic Plan

January 2016 - Hope

December 2015 - Gratitude

November 2015 - Helicopter Children

October 2015 - Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?

September 2015 - Annual Report

July & August 2015 - Family and Community

June 2015 - A Gift that Keeps Giving

May 2015 60 Is the New 60

April 2015 - Spring

March 2015 - Being Mortal

February 2015 - Mentoring

January 2015 - Winter Blues

December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy

October 2014 An Age Friendly Future

September 2014 Annual Report

July - August 2014

June 2014 - Romance After 50

May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate

April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting

March 2014 - Aging in Community

Observational Stay

February 2014 - Family Caregiving

January 2014 - Attitudes about Aging

December 2013 - Giving

November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace

October 2013 - Annual Report 2013

September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair

July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me

June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities

May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape

April 2013 - Becoming Visible

March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions

February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton

January 2013 - Men as Caregivers

December 2012 - The Safety Net

November 2012 - Going Solo

October 2012 - Documenting Your History

September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation

July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving

June 2012 - Diversity

May 2012- Aging in America

APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS

March 2012 - Patient-centered Care

February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?

January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities

December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?

November - We need YOU!

October - Chocolate for Memory

September- Looking Back and Looking Forward

July - August 2011; Ageism

June 2011 - Accessibility

May 2011 - Paper retention

Knit Wits, April 2011

Lessons and Legacies, March 2011

Independent Living February 2011

Home Safety January 2011

Witness to my Life December 2010

Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010

Retire in 3D!

Strategic Planning September 2010

Am I Old? July 2010

Memory Clutter June 2010

Aging In America May 2010

Volunteering April 2010

Spirituality March 2010

Estate Planning February 2010

Encore Careers January 2010

Hiring Home Care December 2009

Annual Giving by Sharon Naeole November 2009

Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009

Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind September 2009

A Personal Perspective on Caregiving July/August 2009

TRANSPORTATION May 2009

Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity April 2009

Write your own obituary March 2009

Hobbies February 2009

Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
January 2009

Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look! December 2008

Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008

Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning October 2008

September 2008 Caregiver Dilemmas

Finding Rhythm and Purpose July/August 2008

Spring Cleaning II June 2008

V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008

Spring Cleaning April 2008

Have You Had the Talk Yet? March 2008

Get Moving with FitRhythms™! February 2008

My Condolences January 2008

Advocacy December 2007

What Are Social Services? November 2007

Sensitive Topics October 2007

Plan for the Future September 2007

The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007

Volunteering June 2007

Strategic Plan May 2007

National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007

Brain Health March 2007

Resiliency February 2007

Transportation January 2007

Season of Giving December 2006

Medicare Part D November 2006

April Hill McElroy October 2006

Civic Engagement September 2006

Change June 2006

White House Conference on Aging May 2006

Hearing Loss April 2006

GrandPals March 2006

Lets Talk February 2006

Eldertopia January 2006

Hoarding December 2005

Annual Report: November 2005

Are You Prepared? October 2005

Planning Ahead October 2005

Watch Your Language September 2005

Medicare Part D Summer 2005

Sue Tillett June 2005

The End of the Journey May 2005

Clutter March 2005

New Dietary Guidelines February 2005

Transitions January 2005

Funding December 2004

Caregiving November 2004

Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004

A New Look September 2004

Safe Driving Summer 2004

Food Safety June 2004

Communication June 2004

The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004

Seniors On The Move April 2004

Depression March 2004

McGreevey February 2004

Medications January 2004

Random Acts of Kindness December 2003

Civic Engagement November 2003

Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003

Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003


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