Some boomers, of course, aren’t sentimental about hanging onto family possessions. “Baby boomers don’t care mostly,” said Deborah Heiser, an applied developmental psychologist based in Great Neck, N.Y., and co-editor of the book, Spiritual Assessment and Intervention with Older Adults: Current Directions and Applications. For many, the attitude is “new home, new me,” Heiser said. “It’s freeing — liberating in a way.”
Many people hang on to more possessions than they ultimately desire. “People think they want the stuff initially but later on they don’t care,” said Deborah Heiser, an applied development psychologist in Great Neck, N.Y.
They might store things for three months, she said, then decide they don’t want them. Once they have found a “new life,” she said, they usually want to dispose of them one way or another.
Deciding what to do with a lifetime of possessions poses a multitude of questions and typically triggers a range of emotions. “People think they want the stuff initially, but later on they don’t care,” said Deborah Heiser, an applied-development psychologist in Great Neck, N.Y., and co-editor of the book “Spiritual Assessment and Intervention with Older Adults: Current Directions and Applications.”
“When you do something meaningful, at any age, that’s what adds meaning to our lives and makes us feel like we have purpose,” says aging specialist Deborah Heiser, a doctor in psychology. It can be overwhelming to begin something new, and often people don’t know where to start, particularly later in life, says Heiser. Living in a community, or having a resource like a senior center or community services center that can help give you direction is beneficial.
Talking about your feelings regarding the changing roles can help reduce tension and make the transition smoother for everyone, she says. “Many children and older adults have preconceived notions about what life should be like for a senior,” says Deborah Heiser. “Children may have wonderful intentions but don’t realize parents have a lot at stake emotionally like their identities, self-worth and value to society.”
"Downsizing before a move can be difficult, but starting the process sooner rather than later has benefits for both seniors and their families. Heiser recommends discussing downsizing early and openly with your parents. “When you spring something on someone out of nowhere, it can be frightening,” Heiser says. “But if you have an ongoing dialogue that’s genuine, then that’s how it can be made a positive experience.”
Our midlife years are filled with emotional growth. Generativity is an emotional development term coined by the famous psychologist Erik Erikson. It means: Caring for others without expecting anything in return. Those who practice Generativity tend to be physically healthier and live longer. It is as simple as that. Our connections with others in our community and the world (and our ability to care about others) carries us into our late midlife and beyond with purpose, productivity and meaning.
In midlife, we do things because we want to - not because we have to. We help others because it feels good to do so. We know who are are, we have surrounded ourselves with meaningful people, and this means we have the confidence in ourselves whether in career, hobby, faith, or family, to pass on what we know to others. We give back to the world in three ways: through mentorship, philanthropy and volunteering, giving ourselves a gift far greater than that we gave – a legacy.