The older you get it seems the more stuff you collect. With each passing year, more presents, cards, tokens from events, and other sentimental items fall into your possession. It’s no wonder by the time you hit your 80-somethings that you could easily have many areas of your home, if not many rooms in your home, filled with unused items or furniture. While these items may easily accumulate, it does not mean that they should be allowed to accumulate year after year.
Oftentimes, this excess unused ”stuff” can be a hazard for seniors living in their home. Tripping and potential for falls as well as depression and anxiety can all be increased by unnecessary amounts of furniture and clutter. The best way to proactively avoid these negative effects would be for you to start helping declutter your senior loved one’s home.
Tips for Helping Declutter
1. Start with one room at a time (or one section of a room at a time, depending on the location of clutter).
Create a list of the various areas that need to be sorted through. If you have multiple areas that need to be worked through, this will take the pressure of completing it all at once.
2. Keep a consistent schedule for decluttering days.
Once you know what areas of the home you need to tackle, you need to block off time to actually start the decluttering process. Dedicate time honestly. If you know you work best working a little at time, schedule yourself to do small sections a half hour or an hour at a time a few days a week. If you prefer to work in large chunks of time once a week, block off a long Saturday afternoon to tackle the projects.
3. Have keep, sell, donate, trash piles.
When it comes time to selling, donating, and trashing an item make sure to do so immediately. Leaving time for the item to sit, may lead you to potentially never doing with it what you said you will or allowing you to overthink the situation and later decide to keep the item once guilt or sentiment creeps back into your mind.
4. Get storage containers for the things that you keep and label them.
No easier way to start the cluttering process all over again is to put your “keeping” items back where you found them with no rhyme or reason. Allocating specific containers for specific items will allow you to organize items better, help you and others locate them when you need them, and prevent you from over-keeping items once the storage containers are filled.
5. Keep digital records of things that you can.
Items that can be digitally kept instead of stored physically include old home videos or extensive documentation or paperwork. This process may take time or be costly if you need to pay someone to do it. However, if old home videos want to be salvaged for memories, it could be worth it. Additionally, if the cost of digitally storing documentation is deterring you from digitally recording paperwork, this could help you realize just how unimportant those documents are. If you don’t think they are worth the expense, they may not even be worth keeping.
6. Ask yourself or the loved one that you are trying to help if the item actually means something to them.
If you are keeping an item out of respect for someone else or are keeping it out of necessity, you likely should get rid of it. Keeping the one dollar souvenir that Great Aunt Sally bought you 20 years ago because you felt obligated to keep it and have let it sit in your basement cellar ever since likely is one of those objects that you are keeping out of respect or because you think you should. Don’t let that be a reason to clutter your home.
7. For large items that may old sentimental value but have no use around the home, try scrap-booking.
Take a photo of the items create a scrapbook to look back on. While the item may no longer be with them, the picture will be there to remind them of it and can be used to show others when wanting to reflect back on the memories it sparks.
While helping declutter your senior loved one’s home can be daunting, it is not impossible. It’s important to first acknowledge that the decluttering process is necessary to remain living in the senior’s home comfortably and safely. Once that is acknowledged, creating and sticking to a schedule will help ensure that the decluttering will actually get done.
Home Care Options
If you are starting to worry about your loved one’s safety in their home, it also may be time to think about home care. Home care can give you the piece of mind that your loved one is aging in place safely by having a caregiver assist your senior loved one with daily activities of living. While there are many local agencies which can provide this care for you, At Home Senior Services can provide quality home care for those located in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Call us at 412.604.0410 or visit us at athomeseniorservices.com to find out At Home Senior Services can help your senior loved one age in place.