Decluttering Tips For Seniors – A Simple Approach to Less

Decluttering can be difficult at any age, but aging leads to some interesting challenges when it comes to cleaning and organizing homes.  Decluttering for seniors may be needed for a downsize, or just for safety, and we’re here to give you some tips on how you can be successful.

Decluttering for seniors is finding the excess stuff and getting rid of it.  This can be for safety reasons or downsizing, and either way it’s best to use a checklist and set reasonable timelines.  Downsizing decreases the available space, hence less stuff and less cleaning for seniors.

Do you have an aging loved one who seems overwhelmed or unfettered by the excess belongings in their home?  Is it time to downsize in preparation for retirement, and don’t know where to start?

What Is Decluttering for Seniors?

Decluttering is something you do to rid yourself of extra stuff that isn’t used or needed.  For seniors, this can be overwhelming because one can accumulate a great deal of excess stuff over a lifetime.  The process of decluttering for seniors would be the same for anyone, only it may take more time and more assistance.

Woman smiling -  Decluttering Tips For Seniors - Gone Minimal
Woman smiling

What Are Some Decluttering Tips for Seniors?

Whether you are helping or are a senior yourself, there are some decluttering tips for seniors that can facilitate the process and make it less stressful for everyone involved.

  • Make use of a checklist.
  • Set reasonable timelines.
  • Learn the difference between needs and wants.
  • Be willing to part with some stuff.
  • Be patient.
  • Breathe.
  • Take a break if you feel overwhelmed.

Downsizing for Seniors

Downsizing for seniors can be done for many different reasons, from decluttering for safety to moving out.  It’s important to keep in mind that downsizing for seniors can lead to a sense of “loss of independence” and sensitivity to those feelings is paramount.

Downsizing can be a beneficial and practical step for seniors looking to simplify their lives and reduce the burden of maintaining a large home. Begin the downsizing process well in advance to avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed. This will give you enough time to sort belongings, make decisions, and plan the move. Downsizing typically requires adjusting to a smaller space. Embrace a minimalist mindset and be prepared to let go of excess possessions. Focus on the benefits of a more manageable home with reduced maintenance.

Two men playing chess - Decluttering Tips For Seniors - Gone Minimal
Two men playing chess

Downsizing at 70

As we age we not only tend to collect a lot of stuff, but we also may experience declines in health and independence.  Downsizing at 70 can not only free up space and decrease stress, but can also make the environment safer for seniors.  It’s difficult to maneuver around a cluttered home when assistive devices are being utilized, so decluttering and downsizing can actually help seniors maintain their independence. 

Downsizing Your Home for Seniors

Seniors are at a time in their lives when the kids are out of the house, they’ve retired, and have entered a new period in their lives when there is potential for new adventures.  The 4+ bedroom home may no longer be necessary, and they may be looking at downsizing.  Opting for a smaller home can make it easier for seniors to keep clean and still maintain independence. 

Downsizing Checklist for Seniors

When it comes to downsizing for seniors, it’s important to do it appropriately and efficiently.  The use of a downsizing checklist can help keep everything organized and safe, which decreases the effort and stress involved in a process that is already overwhelming in itself.  Here is an example checklist for downsizing for seniors to get you started:

  • Have a plan in mind.
  • Start with closets and bedrooms.
  • Declutter room by room and not all at once.
  • Identify what you need, what you want, and what you can get rid of.
  • Take inventory of the important and sentimental items.
  • Consider assistive equipment-make room for safe movement and install what is needed.
  • Prepare to eliminate a room (or two) when preparing to move.
  • Utilize a storage facility if more space is needed.
  • Call moving companies, or recruit family and friends.
  • Don’t rush-set timelines and pace yourself.
Checklist - Decluttering Tips For Seniors - Gone Minimal

Decluttering for Seniors

Decluttering for seniors can be challenging because some of the belongings and things they have collected are tied to emotions and memories.  It can be difficult to let go, even when the living space becomes overly cluttered to the point of being unsafe.  We’re going to look at decluttering for seniors as well as preparing for retirement.

Decluttering in your 60s

By the time we reach our 60s, many of us have a great amount of stuff that may or may not actually serve a purpose in our homes.  Our possessions hold special places in our hearts, and that can make it difficult to let go.  But stuff has to be cleaned and organized, which can add to stress-which we don’t need in our 60s.  It’s best to begin decluttering to decrease the stuff as well as the stress, and prepare for a safer environment as needed.

Decluttering for seniors is finding the excess stuff and getting rid of it.  This can be for safety reasons or downsizing.

Decluttering for Retirement

As we approach the retirement years, it’s important to consider getting rid of stuff not just for safety but for downsizing and saving time.  Many people decide to travel once they retire, and a cluttered house can make that challenging.  Some even take it so far to sell everything and live on the road! 

It’s great to consider decluttering to help others, or even make a little money.  Decluttering for retirement can save a great deal of time in the future cleaning, organizing, and even finding stuff!  It’s a new adventure and should be exciting and fun!

Couple enjoying the beach - Decluttering Tips For Seniors - Gone Minimal
Couple enjoying the beach

Related Insights

Why Should Seniors Declutter?

There are many reasons why seniors should declutter.  Getting rid of extra stuff gets the home cleaner, as well as easier to clean and keep organized.  Decluttering also clears walkways, saves space, and prevents accidents from occurring in the home.  It can also be a great way to prepare for downsizing, or making room for others!

Where Do I Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when preparing to declutter.  Starting in a small room or a room that is often used can make this easier, as there should be a goal in mind.  Always set reasonable goals, and take breaks and breathe when you start feeling stressed.  You can do this!

What Are Some Decluttering Services?

There are several services available that can help you declutter, clean, and organize.  From junk removal to decluttering experts, there are people out there more than willing to help you and your loved ones clean up your home.  Just leave it to the experts-they’re skilled and ready to handle your junk, trash, and even your most prized possessions.

Movers - Decluttering Tips For Seniors - Gone Minimal

How Can I Help My Senior Declutter?

Patience is a virtue.  When helping a senior declutter, it’s important to be patient with them.  They’ve collected a great deal of stuff over many years, and much of that stuff has emotions and memories tied to it.  Discuss a plan, communicate openly, and be prepared for challenges.  They may not be able to be an active part of decluttering, as this may be seen as a loss of independence.  Remember their safety and happiness are the most important things.

At What Age Should Seniors Downsize?

Seniors generally downsize around the time the children leave the home, after college is done, or the kids are established on their own.  There’s no real timeline, it’s all about what they’re willing to stay in and clean, as well as what they can afford.  Seniors generally have set incomes without a great deal of flexibility of funds, so usually the sooner the better.  This can also prevent accidents as seniors age and lose flexibility and mobility.

The Things Real People Don’t Want To Sort Through In Their Parents/Older Relative’s Homes

I asked several friends and family members the top 3 things they do not want to sort through in their parent’s or older relative’s homes. (Books, dishware, memorabilia, furniture, etc.) Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

Things To Sort ThroughTally of Family/Friends
Photo albums4
Medicine cabinet2
Pet supplies1

Here is a helpful video for any senior to purge and reemerge by downsizing and decluttering.

Other Resources:

Decluttering for seniors can be a challenging thing, but with a little help and patience it can be a very positive thing.  Safety and security are of the utmost importance, and sometimes decluttering and downsizing are necessary.  As long as there are reasonable goals, open communication, and flexibility it can be done!

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