Tips for Seniors to Declutter the Home

It is important to organize and declutter your home–whether you are planning to age in place or you are downsizing and moving to a retirement community or assisted living facility. Older adults accumulate a lifetime of possessions and eventually decisions will need to made about which items to keep, disperse to family members, donate/sell, or toss.

Reasons to Declutter

Downsizing. According the U.S. Census Bureau, the average size of a home in 2015 was about 2700 square feet. If you are moving to a smaller place you simply won’t be able to accommodate all your current furniture, decorative items, kitchen utensils, clothing, garage tools, etc.

Keep your home safe. In a 2014 poll conducted by the AARP Public Policy Institute 87% of adults age 65 and older say they want to stay in their current home and community as they age. If you plan to remain in your home make sure it as safe as possible. Clear high traffic areas and place items used daily on easily reached shelves to help avoid a fall. Properly dispose of expired medications, clear out old food and condiments from the refrigerator.

Don’t leave the job for family. The task of decluttering a home can be overwhelming and often put off for another day. Start now before a medical emergency or illness prevents you from doing the job and the responsibility is left to a family member.

How to Start

Take small steps. Professional organizers suggest the best way to begin the process is to focus on one room or area at a time. Work only 2-3 hours each day and  tackle the project again the next day working the same amount of time. Take a couple of days off during the week to give yourself a break.

Create a sorting system. Label three individual bags or boxes with signs that read, Keep, Toss, and Donate/Sell. Anything in the keep pile should be put away in its proper location immediately. Take give-away items to your local donation center at least once a week. Call antique and consignment boutiques in your area to find out if there is interest in anything you want to sell. There are many online marketplaces to sell used goods. However, always exercise caution. Security experts advise to meet someone during the day in a public place where you feel comfortable. Many people meet-up in front of the local police station. Generally speaking, it is best to avoid having a stranger come to you home.

Seek professional assistance. There are now businesses who specialize in helping seniors with all aspects of downsizing. According to the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) Senior Move Managers® are professionals that assist older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or aging in place. A Senior Move Manager can help with: Developing an overall move or age in place plan; organizing, sorting and downsizing; arrange to disperse items through auction, estate sale, buy-out, or consignment; arrange shipment and storage; supervise movers; unpack and set up your new home; and helping with other related services such as cleaning, shopping, and preparing a home for sale.



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