The mid to later part of the 20th century has given us many inventions, from the computer to the iPod and much more. Of course, it’s the “much more” that is cluttering up homes across the country. From old LPs to books that have never been read, we all have items that are taking up space in our homes. It is especially true for the seniors. Many have lived through times of scarcity and feel that they should hang on to items, no matter their level of usefulness. Others have mobility and cognitive issues to deal with and have trouble deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.
What compels people to keep things? Often there are memories attached to many things. Gifts from friends who have since died, pictures of family members from years gone by, letters from past lovers are a part of a person’s life. Then there is hope, as in, “I hope to lose weight, I hope to get time to read those books, I hope to pick up that hobby again.” Then there is not wanting to be wasteful, as in “I may need that plastic container one day.” Never mind the fact that there are 23 plastic containers in the kitchen, some of which don’t have lids.
So, how do you conquer the clutter? The short answer is one item at a time. The long answer is that you need to talk to your children or grandchildren about clearing out the house. This talk will be easier if a move to smaller quarters or to an assisted living facility is being planned, since you know that you can’t bring everything to the new place.
Once you are on board with decluttering how do you get started?
One Room, One Closet or One Drawer at a Time
Since it can be overwhelming to get rid of years and years of accumulated belongings, it is best to start with one room, such as the bedroom or the kitchen. Go through a drawer or closet until you have cleared out all the items that are in the way of the things you use more often. Throw away what isn’t useful and set aside the rest. Do the same with the next drawer or the next part of the room.
Set aside some items to give away or sell
Invariably, you will come across something that you don’t want to give to a thrift store or throw out. Maybe a grandchild, a friend or adult child would like it. Or you feel that you could make some money selling the item either online or at a yard sale. Take this opportunity to ask friends and family members if anyone wants the antique gravy boat or salt and pepper shakers from Disneyland. Give away the items that people want, sell whatever remains that can be sold, and what’s left can go to a thrift store. Most thrift stores will pick up from your home, so you just need to schedule a pick up date and time and let them know how much “stuff” you have to donate.
Leave a Giveaway Box
Despite your best efforts to tackle clutter, new things become old things that become relegated to closets and drawers. Having a giveaway box nearby will help keep the clutter from getting out of hand. When you find something that needs to go, put it in the box. When the box is full, take it to a thrift store or sell the items, so that someone will put the items you no longer need to good use.
Since one person’s “junk” may be another person’s treasure, the best way for someone to find that treasure is get rid of your junk.