"So, the house is a little messy. So what," you may find yourself saying to your children, defensively, when they visit. And, of course, a house doesn’t have to be spartan to be pleasant. But when things really start piling up, it can become more than just a matter of aesthetics. An overcrowded house can actually become a danger.
Even if you’re not a hoarder, you may still be in need of some practical solutions for your cluttered home.
Understand How and Why Clutter Builds up
Over the years, a home can become cluttered for several reasons.
First, you just have a lot of stuff—you’ve amassed quite a collection of trinkets and mementos, and you just don’t have anywhere to put them.
Clutter can build up when you are struggling with mobility, strength, or balance issues. Things just end up being set down within easy reach. It’s much easier, not to mention safer, to leave the nonperishables on the counter-top than it is to balance on the step stool to reach high pantry shelves.
It could just be that you don’t have as much energy as you used to. You may start feeling drained halfway through a cleaning or sorting project. After a while, the clutter has piled up so much that you become overwhelmed by the scope of the project.
Whatever the cause of your clutter, it’s time to confront the problem head on—before it becomes a danger.
The Dangers of a Cluttered Home
Having a cluttered house is not just a matter of neat versus messy. A cluttered home can actually be a physical danger. Towering piles of items can become a hazard if they fall—especially if you’re already a little unsteady on your feet. Articles lying on the floor or in walkways can trip you up when you’re not watching your step or the light is low. If, heaven forbid, a fire were to break out, stacks of flammable items like books or magazines can turn a home into an inferno and obstruct the path of firemen.
In addition to these physical dangers, a messy house can also present a mental health hazard. Clutter can make even the simplest of tasks more complicated, since it can make finding basic items frustrating. Another mental effect of clutter is the feeling that there is always a massive to-do list hanging over your head in your own home, the place where you should be able to relax and rest.
Physical clutter always leads to mental clutter which can be overwhelming and rob you of peace of mind.
Practical Solutions for Seniors Dealing with Clutter
Here are some quick and easy tips you can use to conquer your clutter today.
1. Start Small
If the clutter in your home is overwhelming, give yourself permission to start small. Tackle one drawer, cupboard, or closet each day. Progress can be made in baby steps. By the end of the week, you could have an entire room clutter-free.
2. Ask for Help
Your friends and family may be happy to spend an hour or two each week helping you declutter. Teen and young adult grandchildren are a great help in these kinds of projects because they can lift and carry items and help you sort them out. They may enjoy sharing memories with you and may even be able to help you post collectibles on eBay or Craigslist.
3. Gift Your Treasures to Loved Ones
Next Christmas, instead of hitting the mall for gifts, sort through some of your keepsakes to find treasures—a lovely picture frame, attractive silk scarf, or antique brooch, for example—that your friends and family members may love. Not only will you save money, but it is quite likely that your loved ones will enjoy these special gifts much more than a new sweater from a department store.
4. Have a Garage Sale
Why not make some money from decluttering your home? Purging is less painful when you know it will put cash in your pocket. Items like kitchen gadgets and appliances, gently used furniture, and pieces of home decor sell very well at garage sales.
5. Install Practical Storage Solutions
After you've cleaned things out, install storage solutions that work for you. If stretching to reach tall cupboards is difficult, have someone help you put up low shelves. If hanging items in closets takes more time and energy than you have, install a row of hooks after you remove the clothes bar. Think outside the box and make your home work for you.
These solutions are just the tip of the organizing iceberg for seniors. Once you get started, you will feel so much freer, at rest, and relaxed when you are at home. Get started today.