If you have lived in the same place for many years, it is likely that you have accumulated a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, clutter can cause stress or health issues, and may create fire and safety hazards, especially for older people.
There are many benefits to decluttering your home, including increased health and safety, less cleaning, and better organization. Falling is a major cause of injury for older adults, and getting rid of broken furniture, rugs, clearing walkways, or securing furniture to the wall can make your home much safer. Clear surfaces are easier to clean and collect less dust, mold, and pollen, making the air easier and safer to breathe. Finally, a more organized space can improve energy, memory, and focus, as well as reduce stress.
People hold onto unneeded possessions for many reasons. If something was a gift, has sentimental meaning, could be used in the future, or is simply still in good condition, you might not want to get rid of it. Decluttering can also be a daunting task: you might not know how to begin!
Here are some helpful tips to start reducing clutter and making your home safer:
- Get rid of rugs, broken furniture, coats racks, and any clutter that piles up in walkways. Tidy up cables, wires, and shoes. These are all dangerous trip hazards.
- Make heavy and frequently used items easier to access. You should not have to reach or stoop to grab them.
- Make a plan for decluttering. Decide where you want to start and how much time you want to spend working on each section. Start with one drawer!
- Separate items into four boxes: Keep, Gift/Donate/Sell, Toss, Repair.
- For things you want to throw away, do so quickly. Your space won’t feel decluttered if you have boxes of things you don’t want out in the open!
- Donating or gifting items that are still useful or special can bring you pleasure knowing that someone else will benefit from or enjoy them.
- If you have valuable items that you can sell, use this opportunity to supplement a fixed income.
- If you are unsure whether or not to keep an item, ask yourself whether or not you actively use it or if it brings you joy, per the KonMari MethodTM. You can also set items aside in a “maybe” box to come back to later.
- Enlist help! Ask family or friends, or even find a service to help you sort through and remove unwanted or unneeded stuff.
- Put all of your important papers and documents in a designated place.
- Start now!
Finally, you don’t have to get rid of everything. If you have many decorations that you love, consider rotating them! Keep most of your decorations in a box out of the way, and only display a few items at a time.
For more tips on decluttering, visit these pages: