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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

WLR Blog
Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Downsizing challenge: what to do with old photos

If you’re getting ready to make a move into that fabulous senior living community you’ve been looking forward to, the subject of downsizing has no doubt entered your mindset.

Although you appreciate no longer having to maintain the extra rooms and space that’s no longer needed, choosing what to take with you is a big decision.

Start with the items that don’t hold sentimental value. But make sure to allow extra time when sorting through those objects that do. And that includes the most meaningful collection that most people have…

Their photographs.

A reflection of life

Through the years, you’ve likely snapped and videoed your way through life’s biggest moments. These typically include the milestones of your children’s first steps and birthdays, grandchildren, weddings, favorite vacations, special occasions and retirement parties.

Our photographs represent snapshots of life and tell such a wonderful story.

The way these memories are preserved can vary, from photo albums to 8 mm film to VHS tapes. For many people, there may be boxes and boxes to go through. So where do you start?

Beginning your trip down memory lane

The key is not to put off this task. As soon as you know you’ll be moving, schedule the time to take on this project. Depending on how large your collection may be, allow for days or even weeks. Breaking it down into smaller chunks of time can make it less overwhelming. You may want to consider setting aside an hour or two every evening until you’re finished.

Here are other suggestions to help get a handle on the process:

1. Gather all your photos and videos into one room. You may be surprised at how many places they’re hiding so make sure to have a good look throughout the house. Your dining room table can be the perfect workspace – as long as you won’t be hosting a dinner anytime soon.

2. Come up with a reasonable schedule to accomplish this project. Nothing quite sparks the memory as much as going through old photographs so you’ll also want to factor in the time to reminisce. There will likely be a few tears but much laughter as well.

3.Take time to enjoy sifting through the special occasions that come to mind as much as the photos themselves. Allow yourself the wonderful gift of recalling the past days of extraordinary moments with special people. But don’t get stuck. You will need to continue on.

Tips for sorting and saving your old photos

There are several ways to accomplish this project, but the following are recommendations to help bring order to a lifetime full of captured memories. Consider these suggestions:

1. Choose your sorting method

Some people find it easier to sort their collection by a decade or by categories, such as having a pile for each child, birthdays or weddings. Remember that the work you put in now will pay off later.

2. Make sure you know who’s in the photo

You likely won’t recognize everyone in your pictures so ask any family members if they can help out. You may want to discard those where the mystery can’t be solved. Don’t put them back in the box, leaving for your children to deal with later. If you can’t recall, they won’t be able to either.

3.  Choose which photos to keep

Now is the time to remove all duplicates that you’ve kept through the years. Eliminate all bad photos as well – including blurred shots, bad lighting and those so heavily damaged that they can’t be salvaged. You may decide to keep a blurry photo of your great-grandmother if it’s the only one you have. But get rid of the rest.

4. Digitizing your reels, tapes and photos

Unless you have the equipment and the skills yourself, find a service that can help scan and transfer your memories. Not only will this help you in downsizing and organizing your collection, but it’s a safe way to preserve them as well. Once this is securely accomplished and backed up, you may choose to discard the originals.

5. Create an album to take with you

Some people still want the simple pleasure of flipping through the pages of photos. While they can appreciate digital storage, scrolling a slideshow on their computer may not always feel the same as cozying up in a chair and holding an album in their laps.

6. Organize your digital files

You’ll want an organized system in your digital files. Use the same titles as you created from your earlier work of sorting and categorizing. Remember, it doesn’t have to be chronological.

7. Share the memories

Ask your children, siblings or other family members if they’re interested in any photos you have. They could have duplicates or take advantage of this time to make prints.

8. Document your life well-lived

If there’s time, or after you’ve moved into your new home, consider writing a short story or short notations about some of the photographs. This will give your own children and grandchildren a priceless visual history of your story, including those that had a part in making you who you are.

One last tip…

Downsizing can be hard to begin because we often don’t know where to start. It’s also difficult to part with items we’re attached to emotionally. But nothing is lost when we organize our photographs and family movie reels. Except for the clutter of boxes taking up space.

Take advantage of this chance to revisit past times through these snapshots. The act of reminiscing is one that should be cherished. An old photo may take us back in time, but the memories themselves we keep in a much more sacred and safe space.

Ingleside’s Westminster at Lake Ridge Independent Living community

Although downsizing may seem like a daunting task today, remember that you’ll be upsizing your life experiences and adventures in your new community. Photographs are such a lovely way to look back and remember all those special moments in life. But organizing them makes it so much easier to view and share your stories.

At Westminster at Lake Ridge, you’ll find we’ve designed your new home to be the perfect fit for the new and exciting lifestyle that awaits. Along with our first-class amenities, chef-prepared meals and maintenance-free living, we think you’ll find yourself feeling right at home.

Call (703)794-4631 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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