It is human nature to accumulate things. So it stands to reason, that the older we get, the more most of us seem to collect. The problem is that too much clutter can become overwhelming – even posing a safety hazard at times. With the weather getting warmer, and many of us starting to think about spring cleaning, now might be a perfect time to help your elderly parents or family members deal with the clutter they have accumulated over the years.
Senior care businesses such as Senior Helpers often provide light housekeeping services, but when the time comes to go through Mom or Dad’s old belongings and create some extra space, the family must step up to the plate.
Fortunately, with some advice and support from us, you can make the process a little bit easier.
The first thing you need to do is understand why they are holding on to items in the first place. Is there a sentimental attachment? Do they feel obligated to keep something because it was a gift? Items such as these, you may not be able to convince your loved one to get rid of, but they might be willing to re-gift them to a grandchild or other family member.
Other items, seniors may hold on to out of fear that they will need them one day. Those who came through the Great Depression will likely remember reusing and saving everything. Your mother may have three irons and may not have ironed anything herself for years – but may still have a hard time letting go. Try to reassure her that if she ever does need an iron, that she can borrow yours.
It may come as a surprise that another reason some seniors can’t seem to let go of items is actually the result of loneliness. Items can actually feel like a source of companionship for them. If you suspect this is the case, consider hiring a professional caregiver through a senior care business such as Senior Helpers. Once the loneliness issue has been addressed, they may be more willing to part with some of their clutter.
So how do you start to go through and clear out what has taken a lifetime to accumulate? Well, you likely can’t do it in a day, but you can do it.
If their health and physique allows it, try to involve your elderly family member in the process. Are they able to take on small jobs themselves such as organizing a linen closet? If so, let them work on that while you take on the jobs that require more heavy lifting.
Another strategy is to focus on one room at a time. Use large plastic totes designated for “keep”, “donate”, and “trash”. Bring some bags along too for items the senior wants to give as gifts. Put the item in the bag and put the name of the person they wish to gift it to on the bag so that it can be delivered to them.
Cleaning out clutter can be tough on seniors both physical and emotionally. Be sure to keep an eye on them to see how they are doing. Take frequent breaks and don’t get so caught up in the process that you aren’t willing to go for a walk down memory lane with them when they discover a long lost cherished item.
You might just be surprised at what you learn!
If you require more advice on helping your elderly family members deal with clutter, support can be found when you work with a reputable senor care business such as Senior Helpers.