Over the years, it easy to accumulate a variety of items–from collections, hobbies, travel adventures, children and grandchildren, pets, family, and more, things have a way of piling up. Whether you are surrounded by sentimental treasures or fighting of stacks of clutter, sometimes these items can get in the way and make day to day life more difficult for seniors.
Moving homes and jobs, retirement, and changing priorities are all things that contribute to clutter in the home. Despite a wealth of knowledge and experience that often accompany these accumulated possessions, sometimes you may have to take stock and everything and declutter to make space for more important things such as ease of movement or entertaining family or guests.
Decluttering is especially necessary for those seniors looking to downsize before a move. Whether you are looking forward to a move and need to downsize or just want to organize your current living space, paring down your possessions and determining which items are essential is a great way to get started.
Check out our decluttering tips for seniors to help you or a loved one downsize and declutter their space, to make life easier.
How To Get Started
Declutter by going through one room or area at a time. It’s easy to get caught up or overwhelmed by viewing clutter as one momentous task to get through and by taking the process one room at a time, you reduce the stress associated with going through items and decluttering.
In order to sort through your possessions or those of a senior loved one, use the tried and true method of “Keep, Donate, Throw Away”.
The act of sorting and decluttering is often a very personal process but can also be made more fun by enlisting the help of family, friends, and even professionals. For items you aren’t sure about or need time think about keeping, an outside perspective can be extremely helpful.
Adding a few helping hands can also make the decluttering process go faster, especially for seniors that have difficulty getting around or listing and moving items. Once you have gotten rid of the things you don’t want or need, you can begin going through the things you love and use regularly.
Get Rid Of Health Hazards
While you may love that large exercise machine, easy to access extension cord, or colorful rug they all act as potential trip and fall hazards. First and foremost, in senior homes there should be no accumulated items that get in the way or risk a fall or other injury. According to the CDC, an older adult falls effect over 50 million people in the U.S. every year and can severely impact a senior’s ability to live independently.
In order to reduce the risk of dangerous falls or other injuries, declutter to make a senior living space free of trip-hazards and install organization and safety systems (such as grab bars and toiletry organizers in the shower or bath).
Another tip to reduce injuries is to keep an itemized list of important things in the home–such as where to find the telephone, fire extinguisher, glasses, medications, and other important objects. This practice ensures that each item has a designated space in the home, and that they can be easily found and kept in that space.
Keep Things Within Reach
For frequently used items, like well-loved slippers, remotes, eyeglasses, or a favorite photo album, keep them in an organized space that is easy to access. Organize your living space around you–namely the things you use daily to complete your tasks or partake in certain hobbies, so there is no need to look for a lost remote or pair of eyeglasses.
For instance, if you garden regularly, then keep a small organized bag or cart of gardening supplies neatly tucked away in the mudroom. If you love to watch a certain hobby show at 1p.m. (think knitting, woodworking, etc.), keep the remote in a visible and easy to reach spot, and your hobby supplies nearby as well.
For day-to-day tasks like cooking, bathing, and hobbies, ensure you organize your home to fit your schedule. This might mean keeping cooking utensils organized in a lower drawer or installing a shower bar and caddy with everything you need. Decluttering is not only a chance to get rid of things you don’t need, it provides you with an opportunity to easily access the things you do need and use often.
How To Deal With Sentimental Items
Decluttering the items that get in the way is a relatively easy process; however, many seniors tend to have a problem sorting through and determining what to do with sentimental items. It can be tough to narrow down what to keep in a room brimming with cherished items with sentimental value, not to mention valuable antiques.
Take stock of what is truly historic and important, whether it is an item from an important point in your life that is associated with a specific memory or time, or a special relic passed down in your family.
If you have children or grandchildren, or even nieces or nephews or other close family members, they may also have an attachment to certain pieces and want to continue passing them down to preserve the history associated with an item. Think about all the stories of grandma’s special ring or necklace, passed down from one generation to another. Knowing that you can helping someone else by passing on one of your lesser used items, often makes it much easier to get rid of something that was given to you or that is taking up space.
On the other hand, family and friends often have their own sentimental items, and will not view something or appreciate it in the same way that you do. In this case, it may be better to keep items you cherish, and donate or appraise the rest.
By donating items, you ensure they find a new home and can be used for many more years. Appraising and selling valuables (via auction, online websites, and in-person) can provide funds to pay for medical care and health aids, housing, hobbies, and more services or items that tend to be overlooked for seniors.
Digitize And Discard
Much of the clutter in senior homes comes from paper, documents, and accumulated mail. Whether they are holding on to tax records from the last 20 years, or keeping junk mail from last week, old papers take up space and don’t serve much of a purpose.
Older adults tend to get a lot more junk mail and catalogs, and don’t toss them as much as other groups. In order to reduce clutter from piled up paperwork, try doing these things:
- Switch to online statements for bills, banks, and reminders
- Unsubscribe from junk mail and unwanted catalogs
- Get a shredder to reduce the chance of identity theft and to get rid of old papers
- Digitize old photos, documents, and important mementos with a scanner
Get Help From An Expert
For most people, decluttering is a hassle. For seniors, it can be a monumental task due to years of accumulated possessions and their lack of or limited mobility. If you aren’t sure where to start or have more clutter than can be reasonably handled by yourself or even with a few friends, consider hiring an expert to help you navigate through the decluttering process.
For seniors in the northing Virginia area and D.C. Metro area who are looking to either move or downsize, the Ariel Assist team can help with the transition.
For many, getting rid of clutter is a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be! At Ariel Assist, we believe you should love your space. We help seniors free their living spaces from clutter and disorder so they can enjoy the items they have and lead a more productive lifestyle.
Our organization and decluttering experts will assist by formulating a plan that fits your needs and living situation. Whether you’re planning to move into a smaller space, looking to downsize and organize your home, or just want to clear out some clutter for a senior family member, Ariel Assist can help. Contact us today online or by calling +1 (703) -291-1223 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to a decluttering specialist to get a free in-home estimate.