Community Blog

3 Tips for Helping Senior Loved Ones Declutter Their Spaces

By Michelle Brown

60+ years of collecting in a home is a long time to build up an inventory of goods. While someone may assert that every item in his or her home or assisted living quarters has monetary or emotional value, the truth is that nooks, crannies, shelves and cabinets likely contain items they have long forgotten about. Convincing someone that the time may be now to part ways with their collection can be overwhelming. Letting go of items can create a clutter free space in which a senior can lead a happier, less stressful and healthier existence. Let’s also not forget safer!

Decluttering decades worth of possessions is easier said than done. Use the following three tips to help a senior let go of the past and move forward with a positive mindset.

1. Start Small

"Start small" means two things. On the one hand, it means just that—start small. Start with a small room or area, such as the dining room or a particularly cluttered countertop. Decluttering one space at a time is not as overwhelming as trying to tackle a whole home at once.

On the other hand, "start small" means get rid of items that don't hold much emotional value. For instance, if someone has paper clutter, sort through that first. Years of tax returns, old checkbooks, yellowing receipts and old appliance manuals carry little emotional or actual value.

2. Break It Up

Going through decades' worth of possessions can be overwhelming both physically and emotionally speaking. Make the process easier by breaking the task up into manageable sessions. For instance, set aside three hours a day to declutter and allow for breaks every 20 minutes.

3. Be Prepared

As with item one, "be prepared" means two things:

1) be prepared with bins, bags and boxes to accommodate the clutter

2) be prepared to address common concerns and any stressors that may come from getting rid of items that may have sentimental value

When decluttering space, you are apt to hear the following two phrases often: "It's too valuable to let go" and "I might need it one day." Be prepared to address these concerns in a rational and compromising manner.