As parents feel the effects of limited mobility, they gradually spend more and more time at home. In order for them to actually be safe at home, though, we must help parents declutter their homes to prevent falls. So we need to help our seniors clean up the clutter. Here are ways to help a parent reduce clutter.
But how to help parents declutter?
- Make a Game Plan to Clean Up the Clutter
- Lighten Up
- Focus on Furniture
- Clear the Way
- Start with the least sentimental items
- Take charge of your childhood items
- Hire a Third Party
- Add Storage Space
- Host a Garage Sale
- Enjoy the time with your parents
On this post I will explain in more detail these tips to help parents declutter, as well as why seniors have so much clutter and why it’s important to clean up clutter.
Why Do my Parents Have So Much Clutter?
Vickie Dellaquila, author of “Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash”, gives 10 reasons why seniors have a difficult time parting with material items:
1. The Sentimental Attachment
Seniors have hard time to get rid of old photos, books, pieces of clothing and other items that bring back special memories.
2. The sense of loyalty
Items seniors received as a gift, even if they don’t use, most of times have more value to them than something they bought themselves.
3. The need to conserve
Many seniors are green people and have the desire to conserve the environment and help others.
4. The Fatigue
Bills and junk mail can pile up quickly in senior’s home and create even more of a mess and frustration. And they usually aren’t comfortable to switch to online billing or to unsubscribe from junk mail lists.
5. The change in health
If your senior suffers from dementia, has had a recent stroke or other type of brain trauma, or is wheelchair bound, they may have a difficult time keeping up with day to day household duties.
6. The fear
Like many people, seniors often fear what will happen if they give up their things.
7. The dream of the future
Many elderly people hold on to things because they feel that someday in the future they will have a use for it.
8. The love of shopping
Clutter can become even worse if your parent loves to shop. It can even get to a point where they may buy something and then forget where they put it and never use it.
9. The history and memories
Many seniors often have a variety of different keepsakes that represent memories and their history.
10. The loneliness
Many elderly people may compensate for loneliness by having lots of things. Besides, loneliness can also lead to depression, which only makes it harder to seniors to become organized.
Why is Important for Your Parents Declutter?
Seniors living in a cluttered home are more likely to fall simply because there actually are more fall risks.
Furthermore, floors with clutter can cause seniors to trip and lose their balance. When seniors bend down to clean up clutter, they are also putting themselves at risk of losing their balance and falling. Moreover, depending on where falls occur, seniors may hit their head, break bones, and incur a number of other injuries.
Besides, when there is a lot of clutter, there is a risk of items falling from overhead when seniors are trying to get things off of shelves or racks. And these falling items can cause injury to seniors.
How to Help Parents Declutter?
1. Make a Game Plan to Clean Up the Clutter
Understand that cleaning up the clutter won’t be a one-day event. Take a quick inventory of the house and list what needs to be done. If there are areas your senior can do on their own, they can try to organize these areas on days you may not have time to help out.
Go through your list of areas that need to be organized, and tackle them one by one. Evaluate every space in your senior’s home. So check if they have stacks of books or papers around every corner or they have a large bulky pieces of furniture in the middle of rooms. Look around every room in your house, and determine which areas are the most cluttered, and what you can do to reduce the amount of stuff in your space.
And be sure to have three containers: keep, donate, and trash. Also consider bringing some paper grocery bags. These come in handy if your senior wants to give something as a gift – simply put the item in the bag, write the recipient’s name on it and get it delivered.
Also, keep an eye on your aging senior through the process. Beyond the physical toll of the work, the emotional toll may be difficult. So take breaks when you need to, but try to push on the best you can.
Additionally, it’s also important to remember that your aging senior needs to make the decision on each item. You can always keep the project going, but ultimately, they need to have the control of deciding where items go.
After you’ve gone through everything, put the keep bin items away, toss the trash, and take the donate bin to a local charity.
2. Lighten Up
Seniors bigger risks for falls and injuries when there isn’t enough light and when small objects like door handles aren’t illuminated enough. Assess all the lights in the area you are cleaning up. Plus, you may want to get rid of standing lights that a senior could bump into along with lights and other items that form hazards with electrical cords.
3. Focus on Furniture
When figuring out what to get rid of while helping a senior declutter, look at furniture from a safety perspective. You might want to remove furniture that is too low, too high or that have pieces with sharp edges.
4. Clear the Way
Look at the paths available in the house and try to see what obstacles exist when walking these paths. Get rid of or move anything that a senior could bump into.
5. Start with the least sentimental items
Start the decluttering process with the least sentimental items (towels, sheets, appliances, etc.). This can help the process move more quickly in the beginning and get your loved one used to letting things go. Of course, this pace will slow down once you hit more sentimental items such as clothing, pictures, or decorations.
6. Take charge of your childhood items
Next step will be the sentimental items, your sentimental items. So if your parents are still holding on to a lot of your childhood memorabilia, take this as an opportunity to sort through it and get rid of items that no longer have much sentimental value to them. If the item does not mean much to you, it probably will not mean much to your parents.
7. Hire a Third Party
As things start getting hard and the items are too sentimental for your parents, hire a trirThere are many great companies that provide organization services. For a small fee they will assist you in culling through your belongings, deciding what to keep, discard, give away or donate. It is also helpful to work with someone who does not have an emotional connection to the items throughout this process.
8. Add Storage Space
One way to help parents declutter is to create more storage space. The best way to do that is to use shelves, peg racks and storage boxes.
9. Host a Garage Sale
A garage sale is a great way to get rid of clutter and make some extra money. Just make sure that you give yourself enough time in advance to get everything ready, and ask friends and family members what days they have free to help or attend.
10. Enjoy the time with your parents
There is no doubt that decluttering, packing, and moving your parents’ house is hard work and tensions will arise. Also remember that many of the things you’ll be going through have a special memory for your senior.
Don’t get too caught up in the organizing that you forget to take a little stroll down memory lane. You might be surprised at the stories you’ll hear. So instead of viewing this process of helping your parents declutter as a chore, change your perspective and view it as a chance to spend time with your parents and learn more about their past or your childhood.
Great Organizers to help you Declutter:
The Akro-Mils 44 Drawer 10144 is great for storing and organizing a wide range of things. Cabinets stack securely and can also be wall-mounted using keyhole slots molded into the back of the cabinet. It features 8 small drawer dividers, 4 large drawer dividers included and come molded into the back of the cabinet, finger grip drawer pulls provide easy access and rear stop tabs prevent contents from spilling
Check this item on Amazon.
The Honey-Can-Do Rolling Storage Cart and Organizer is an ideal storage for home. It’s semi-transparent large storage drawers for easy viewing which allow you to quickly identify drawer contents. It consists in 12 heavy-duty drawers. Smooth glide locking casters and easy to move and locked into place (the locking wheels provide maneuverability and stability when needed).
Check this item on Amazon.
The AmazonBasics Collapsible set of 6 cloth storage cubes is perfect for organizing and reducing home clutter. Made of stylish, sturdy, breathable fabric with sewn-in, easy-to-grab handles. It’s also lightweight and easy to carry. Besides, it also function as open-top bins or as drawers when used with a storage-cube organizer (not included)
Check this item on Amazon.
With the VacBest Vacuum Storage Space Saver Bags you can enlarge your parents’ limited home space. They have powerful compression ability, which can save 80% more space for you. There are four different sizes of vacuum bags:Jumbo(40″ X 30″), Large(30″ X24″), Medium(28″ X 20″) and Small(24″ X 16″), 5 of each. It comes with double zippers and 3-layer turbo valve that offer complete isolation for 3-year effectively avoid side effects of overtime storage. And it also comes with a hand pump for helping to you extract air out conveniently and efficiently.
Check this item on Amazon.
If your parents have tons of clothes to store, the TAILI Hanging Vacuum Space Saver Bags is a great item to get. It comes with 4 bags in 2 different sizes (2pcs 53″x27″ & 2pcs 41″x27″) , available to store suits or jackets, whether short or long. Perfect size also fits any closet/wardrobe. When you zip the cube storage bags, TAILI color-changeable zippers help you identify the sealer of bags were sealed well or not by a glance, the clear line will be inserted into the two back lines becoming gray color, showing that the bag is well- sealed. The Patent Valve Technology helps you say goodbye to hand pumps and vacuum cleaners. Just vacuum the space saver bags by using a pillow to press. Save more space and time for you. Durable Double Zip-Seal and One-way Suction Valve ensure an airtight seal and keep bags compressed for a long time.
Check this item on Amazon.
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