For some seniors, there is comfort in having things around. The problem is that many of those belongings are probably taking up space that your senior needs for safe mobility. That means the stuff has to either get reorganized or go.
Talk to Your Senior Long Before You Actually Start Decluttering
Jumping into decluttering and removing belongings before your senior is ready to do so can be a recipe for hurt feelings and disaster. Before you’re planning to get into the heavy lifting part of this project, sit down with your senior. Talk to her about why decluttering is important from your perspective and what removing some clutter can do for her. Lean heavily on how this will positively impact her life and her health.
Come to a Compromise First
Talking is one thing, but what you really need is a full compromise with your senior. Neither of you are going to get exactly every single thing you want in this conversation. Your senior likely wants every bit of her belongings to stay right where they are. You’re likely more concerned with her ability to be safe as she moves through her home. Work out where the boundaries are now, that you can both agree to. This will help later.
Map out a Plan and then Follow it Slowly
Once you’ve talked and come to an agreement you can both follow, you need a plan. This is where you and your senior might get more specific about what needs to go and where it goes from here. For example, old magazines and books that she hasn’t read in a while might get donated to a library. Anything that is damaged, either by pests or because it’s no longer useful, needs to have a plan for disposing of that item.
Keep Track of Progress
This may be more difficult for your senior than you expect it could possibly be. Even if she’s not technically a hoarder, your senior could have a serious attachment to her belongings that keeps her holding onto them. Take a picture before you begin and remember to take progress shots periodically as you and your senior work. Neither of you might be able to see the big differences right away, but the pictures can help you to see how much progress is being made.
It might not be as easy for your senior to maintain the ground you’ve gained as you would hope. It’s really easy for clutter to creep back in, sometimes so slowly that neither of you notices. One solution that can help is to bring in elderly care providers who help your senior to stay on top of things like staying organized and keeping the house clean and accessible.