Featured image showing an older women sitting in a clean house having a video chat with loved-ones.

A How-To Guide for Seniors to Declutter

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the number of belongings that you have in your home? Most of us do! Spring cleaning can feel stressful, especially when things are piling up and collecting dust. Below are a few tips and tricks -specific to seniors to help downsize and declutter without the stress.

Know Your “Why?”

First of all, determine why you wish to declutter and downsize. Many seniors may be getting ready to move or make room for an in-house caregiver. Those are certainly good reasons but also keep in mind that decluttering can improve one’s mood, ease anxiety, and reduce the risk of tripping and falling. On that note, reducing clutter creates more mobility and space for walkers and canes. Also, decluttering today gives you leverage into the future. For instance, the less dust traps you have, the less you have to dust. Beyond that, it’s a proven fact that seniors benefit from looking at photographs of loved ones. Clearing away the non-essential items will make room for the things that matter, like photos.

Make A Plan & Never Do it All in One Day

Do not try and sort through your entire house in one day as it will be impossible. Instead, make a plan and allow yourself time. It’s perfectly acceptable to focus on one drawer or closet each day. Or, rather than section by section try to do it for thirty minutes each day. If that doesn’t work strive to get rid of 7 items each week. No matter the tactic, taking it in small doses will make the process easier. One senior made it fun for her friends and family. Each time she had a visitor, she would ask if they wanted anything. Each visitor would usually leave with an armful of items. This tactic was fun, memorable for her loved ones, and a very efficient way to downsize and declutter.

Stay Nimble

Stay nimble and flexible. If one approach no longer works, move on to another. Keep experimenting with your techniques and find the ones that work for you. For some great out-of-the-box ideas, see “7 Ways to Declutter You Probably Haven’t Tried.”

Get Help!

Decluttering is like anything else. It takes practice. At first, it’s going to be very hard. During the beginning stages, get help. Reach out to your friends and family to see if they would be willing to help. If they can’t or you don’t want to ask them then you can reach out to professional organizers.

There are professionals out there willing to help you downsize. To find a professional organizer, we recommend you look at the National Association of Productivity & Organizing (NAPO) website.

Other resources could be neighbors, church members, missionaries, or other individuals that look for ways to volunteer their time.

Create an Effective Sorting System

Take each room one by one and create two piles on the floor. One for trash and one for donation. Make sure to keep this method of two piles throughout all rooms and take the room in sections.

Offload Your Items

This is the hardest but most rewarding part. Now that you’ve sorted, it’s time to offload your items marked for giveaway and trash. First, ask your friends or loved ones if they want to keep them before you junk them. After that, find a donation pickup service that will come and haul away the items. Looking for resources? Check out our local connection points. There is help available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling the numbers below:

  • Placer Country – (833) 342-5211
  • Nevada Country – (833) 342-5211
  • Washoe Country – (866) 535-5654

Enjoy the Space

You’ve worked hard now its time to reap the benefits. Enjoy the freedom of less stuff. This means accessing what you have more easily. Enjoy memories such as photos, letters, and treasures without the obstruction of other stuff. And, maneuver more easily through your home!

Check out 2022 New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Seniors and Sierra Seniors’ Emergency Preparedness Guide for 2021/2022

Sierra Senior Services is the local Meals on Wheels provider covering the Greater Truckee/Lake Tahoe region. We provide home-delivered meals, and can make referrals for additional support services that empower seniors to continue living independently. Sierra Senior Services is a California 501-(c)-3 Non-profit Corporation · Tax ID 68-0484075 Contribute today!

Source: Callahan, Timothy. “Downsizing Checklist for Seniors: 10 Steps to Make the Process Smooth.” Moversville, 18 Sept. 2020, https://moversville.com/blog/the-ultimate-downsizing-checklist-for-seniors-10-steps-to-make-the-process-smooth.