a cluttered closet with coats and boxes of full of papers
a cluttered closet with coats and boxes of full of papers

6 Decluttering Tips for Seniors

The birds are singing, the grass is green. Ah, warm weather is upon us. And since we’re all spending more time at home this summer, it’s the perfect time to start your cleaning and decluttering project. It’s a good bet you’ve noticed a few items around the house taking up more space than they’re worth. Decluttering for seniors can be a daunting task. But with a few decluttering tips, the results can feel truly uplifting — like a breath of fresh summer air.

Why Should Seniors Declutter?

We’re all consumers to some degree. By the time we’re older adults, it’s normal to have accumulated possessions once deemed necessary or fashionable but no longer offer us value or pleasure. These items crowd us and disrupt what should be a serene living space. Often, rooms that should be open and inviting become storage space for little-used or unwanted bric-a-brac. In addition to being unsightly, experts say clutter creates anxiety. In short, mess equals stress.

Here’s another benefit of decluttering for seniors: Streamlining your possessions is an important step toward downsizing or a move to a senior living community. Most communities offer a variety of residential options, right-sized for a low maintenance and easier lifestyle. Some, like McLean, even offer moving consultants to help you determine which possessions will best compliment your new home.

So let’s get started decluttering for seniors.

Get Organized to Stay Organized

Every successful project starts with a plan. Here are 6 tried-and-true steps* to make your task easier:

  1. Before you start, stock up on garbage bags, empty boxes, tape, markers, paper towels and cleaning products.
  2. Choose one room to tackle at a time. The garage or a closet is often a good place to start. Don’t move on to another room until you’ve finished the first.
  3. Sort. Put everything in the room into four categories: Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash. A good rule of thumb: With few exceptions, if you haven’t opened a box or used an item in a year, it probably is not a necessity.
  4. Take your time. If you’re unsure about an item, place it in the Keep box for now, but plan to revisit items in that box again in a month. At some point though, you’ll need to decide whether or not you can live without it.
  5. Make it fun. Put on some of your favorite music. Invite a friend to help. Plan on a treat at the end of the day: maybe ice cream, a favorite cocktail or special dinner.
  6. Give your children a say. Consider inviting adult children to assist in the sorting process. They will surely claim some of the items placed in the Sell or Donate boxes.

A Few Additional Decluttering and Downsizing Tips for Seniors

  • Reduce closet clutter. In order to keep clothing, it must meet two criteria: 1. It must fit. 2 It should be in style. A good rule is, if you haven’t worn it in two years, you don’t need it anymore.
  • Clear the kitchen. Match lids to every container, then toss out anything without a mate. It’s worth noting that if you’re considering a move to a senior living community, they’ll probably offer a meal plan — with high-quality, delicious food. So you may be able to pare down kitchen/cooking items.
  • Find a new home for books. As intellectual beings, we get attached to literature. But books take up space, they’re heavy, and those stories are almost always available if you want to read them again. If a senior living community is in your future, there will likely be a nice library among the amenities. What should you do with books you decide not to keep? Some libraries accept book donations, or you may have friends or family members who might be interested in some of your titles. Outdated reference books and the like may need to be discarded.

Follow the above decluttering tips for seniors and before you know it, you’ll reduce both the clutter and help to alleviate some of the stress in your life. It’s always a good time to do something that makes us feel better every day.

Even if you don’t feel up to the project, you can always find help. Specialized senior move managers are experts who address the specific needs of older adults. It’s often a hassle-free way to declutter your house and also make a rightsizing move to a senior living community.

If you’d like to know more about downsizing and decluttering for seniors, and residential options available at McLean, we’d love to help. Contact us here.