When you last went into your parent’s place, were you overwhelmed by how much stuff they’ve accumulated? What was once a lovely, clean home now seems to be consumed by clutter? Somewhere in the aging process, it happens to a great many seniors. There are many reasons why seniors won’t give up their stuff; there are also many ways you can help them to overcome their attachment and control it in many different and ingenious ways.
I wore that dress to my baby shower; that was the sleeper I brought you home from the hospital in. Stories are a significant way we recall the good things in life. For many elderly people, things are a connection between the event and the memory. They have to hold on to the dress or the sleeper as a visual representation that it was a part of their lives. Instead of letting memories pile up in a corner, see if they will be willing to convert memories into other formats. Unique clothes can be cut up and sewn into a quilt. Photos can be digitized and placed in digital frames or home movies they can watch again and again. And if they can help with the craft project, it makes the time even more special for the both of you.
Many of today’s elderly still recall the Great Depression, and many had to save and use things repeatedly. They remember that and conservation has remained a vital goal all of these years. So why to throw out those shoes without taking out the shoestrings – they are still good. Seniors can develop all kinds of reasons for saving things and putting things to use in more than one way. If they have trouble getting rid of things, find ways for them to donate instead. They may feel better about getting rid of stuff if they know it’s going to a good cause or a good home.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
For a senior that has lived a long life in one location, every corner can bring out new memories. Unfortunately, that can quickly become overwhelming when you see clutter everywhere. With today’s technology, you may be able to help them declutter by automating and digitizing as much as you can. Take your loved one off junk mail lists, buy them a shredder, and set them up for automatic bill pay to take away everyday clutter that comes into the home and can quickly add up to a big problem.
The Fear Of Needing
What if I need that statement for something down the road? Seniors can quickly develop all kinds of reasons to hang on to something, especially if they’ve required paperwork in the past. Helping them establish a filing system may help them keep things in order and help you start an easy way to dispose of stuff at the end of different periods.
The Love of Shopping
Seniors often have a routine for their days and weeks. And in some cases, that may mean frequenting stores again and again. For example, they might not remember how much shampoo they have in the spare closet and buy it week after week until they have an entire shelf full. Or they may have a unique attraction to something they enjoy, such as new clothes. Or they may be attracted to the “bargains“, such as buy one get one event or unique gifts if they buy a certain amount. Try to convince them to purchase only when they need and only what they truly need to use within their homes and lives.
In many cases, what they have is old and no longer available, and to them, it holds historical value. If it truly does have historical value, talk to historical societies, small museums, or even bring things along to family reunions to share with people interested in what they have saved all of these years.
Seniors often spend much of the day alone, and stuff can become their friends. As a result, they can become depressed and simply lose the will to clean and keep things in an orderly fashion. And of course, the more stuff they have, the more depression continues to set in. If things reach the critical point, it may be time to have a professional organizer help out. They deal with organizational problems every day and can gently make recommendations about the right approach to put everything back in order.