Are you a senior of retirement age looking to declutter? Or perhaps you have an elderly parent who you want to help clear their clutter.
Reaching retirement is an exciting time for seniors. However, for some, the stress of letting go of everything you’ve held onto over the years can hinder your ability to reach this new stage in life.
But what many don’t know is that the decluttering process can actually be a great way to start off on the right foot as you prepare yourself for retirement.
I’m going to share some decluttering tips for seniors to help get rid of the clutter and make your home a peaceful and organised place to live in!
Table of Contents
- What are the common reasons for seniors to declutter
- Decluttering tips for seniors
What are the common reasons for seniors to declutter
Moving to a smaller house and decluttering a lifetime of belongings will almost always be difficult for seniors. It’s more than just finding the right place to live that’s fit for you, it also involves finding ways to get rid of everything that doesn’t belong in the new space.
It’s important to be able to make the right decisions on what you should hold onto and what you can do without at this point in your life, especially for seniors who no longer have children living with them.
Sometimes, we may not even want to acknowledge that we don’t need all of our things because we’ve become emotionally attached over time. But it’s important to realise that you won’t need every single thing in your entire house after retirement; some things are just not practical anymore, such as an old work desk that won’t be used any longer.
Moving to assisted living
Assisted living facilities will often need their residents to leave much of their belongings behind when they move in. Appliances that are twenty years old will be looked at as an unnecessary safety hazard, and the same goes for some larger furniture.
Typically when moving to an assisted living community, you will only need to bring personal belongings and some small furniture, such as coffee tables, nightstands, etc.
Because there will be limited space in this facility, it will be necessary to clean out your house before moving into the new home.
Death of a loved one
When a spouse passes away, you will of course experience feelings of deep sadness and grief. It often takes time, but at some point you may decide to let go of their belongings.
This can be a very difficult time because it means letting go of the items that remind you of your partner. It might also mean letting go of your home if it is too difficult emotionally to stay in the location you lived with your loved one.
Decluttering can be a very cathartic process for seniors because it means starting over and freeing themselves up to begin experiencing new memories, relationships, etc. Because you are removing so many emotional attachments from your life, it can be easier to start fresh.
Needing more space
Sometimes it’s not about the sentimental value of what you might be holding onto, but rather how much space certain things take up.
If an elder has outgrown their home and begun making stairs difficult to go up and down or they’ve remodelled their house in such a way to assist with mobility, they may need to consider decluttering to allow extra living space in their home.
Swedish Death Cleaning
Decluttering in your 60s is often referred to as Swedish Death Cleaning, which is the practice of clearing out your home before you die.
This may seem a little grim but in fact it’s not at all. It’s not about letting go of things you love and still use, it’s about decluttering the things that are not adding value to your home and will not be passed down to your family and friends in time. This saves them the difficult task of clearing out your belongings once you have passed.
It’s a given fact that we will all cease to exist one day, and by Swedish Death Cleaning earlier rather than later, you have more energy than you would in later years. To read more about the process of Swedish Death Cleaning, read the following post:
Decluttering tips for seniors
Don’t do it alone
This may seem like an obvious tip, but sometimes it can be difficult to let others help you to declutter your home. Whether it be because you don’t want anyone else going through your things or because you fear that you’ll be forced to let go of things you want to keep. This can lead to overwhelmed and unsupported feelings.
Asking family members and friends to help will be much better in the long run. You’ll get a lot more done in less time, and you can always make some rules before you get started to ensure everything you want to keep is saved.
Take your time
This is a very important tip because it’s so easy to rush through the process and become overwhelmed. That’s the last thing we want to happen!
You must allow yourself time to grieve and move forward, doing things at your own pace. It’s difficult decluttering sentimental items, even if you’re ready to let them go.
You should also ensure you’re working at a comfortable speed and that you’re able to walk through your home and declutter without any difficulty.
Tackle one area at a time
In order to not get too overwhelmed with the task in hand, make sure you just tackle one area of one room at any time. Don’t try and clean out an entire room in one day because you will lose steam, become too overwhelmed and not want to continue on.
It’s also easier to see progress when you do one room at a time, rather than doing a little in each room. And once you see the progress, it’s a great motivator to keep going.
Donate and sell
By decluttering your home, you can even make some money and help someone else in the process!
Selling items through a yard sale is a great way to earn some extra cash as well as clear up space. And donating items that are still usable, such as clothing and furniture, for those who need it is something wonderful you can do with those things you no longer need.
Take photos of sentimental items
Another tip is to take photos of sentimental items, especially those that are being given away, donated or thrown out. This can be a great way to remember them and look back on the past memories without actually holding onto the item.
For example, if you have a collection of ornaments that you no longer have room for and want to donate, take a picture of each, upload to your computer and you can look at them any time you like. More often than not, items like these have been hidden away for years, without being looked at, but were not let go of because of the sentimental attachment.
Separate what you want to hand down
It’s also important for seniors to separate items that they want to hand down to family members. This reduces the clutter of guilt and broken promises, and ensures things that will be used and loved by future generations are given away rather than neglected and forgotten about.
Create a box for each family member and label it with their name. Explain what each item is and why you’ve chosen that particular piece for them, and encourage family members who want the items to come and collect them directly.
Give everything that remains a home
A decision will have to be made about where everything that remains can be stored.
If there are items that you still wish to hold onto but do not necessarily need for everyday use, this may mean making a space in the attic, garage or spare room so each item has its place and won’t get lost or forgotten about.
Everything that you use every day should also have a home within your home so that the space is easy to keep tidy and doesn’t get cluttered.
Keep what you use often nearby
As a senior moving into the age of retirement, you may find your mobility becomes limited, and you may no longer want to be going up and down the stairs or going in and out of different rooms throughout the day.
It’s a good idea to keep everything that is used often nearby, instead of putting it away on the other side of the house.
Get rid of things that may be hazardous
When you are decluttering, you must make sure there is nothing that can be harmful or hazardous left behind.
This may include broken kitchenware and gardening tools as well as abandoned medication. In the garage, there is likely to be old paint and varnish and possibly faulty machinery.
Make sure these are disposed of in a safe manner to avoid any injuries.
When downsizing or moving house it is easy to accumulate sentimental items that we don’t need but want to keep. The elderly are especially prone to this as they have more time behind them and can find it more difficult emotionally to let go of sentimental items.
It takes courage to start decluttering but the benefits are well worth it, not only physically but emotionally too.
Decluttering does not have to be an arduous task for seniors, if you take your time and use tips such as the ones above you can make it an easier process all around.
Have you got any decluttering tips for seniors? Let me know in the comments below!
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