Have you noticed that an older friend or loved one seems to have racked up considerable clutter over the years? Although these items may be special and sentimental, the clutter can become unsafe or make it difficult to move around the home.
Understanding Why Seniors are Holding On
Many older adults hold on to the memories associated with items, find it difficult to part with gifts, or believe they may need these items some time in the future. It’s important to understand this and be gentle with your approach. Simply reassure them that someone else may need it now and could greatly benefit from having it instead.
For seniors who are left alone, the loneliness can also be a contributing factor as to why they hold on to so many possessions. If they spend a lot of time on their own, this may cause depression or mood swings, and the familiarity of items provides a sense of comfort and stability.
How to Help Your Senior
You may need to consider hiring a professional to organize and clean up the space. It’s likely you will be met with resistance, but this often is the only option if there is simply too much to go through.
It’s critical to make a plan as to what this will entail, as it can take up to a few days depending on the amount of clutter that has accumulated. Start by making a list of what needs to be tackled first. If there are specific areas that you can go through with your loved one, try to do these together before a professional comes to do the rest.
When organizing, always keep three piles: one for items to keep; one for items to throw away; and one for items to be donated to charity. Although you will want to step in and make the call, it’s important to respect your loved one and allow them to decide where the items will go.
This may prove to be a difficult process for your aging loved one, both physically and emotionally. Make sure to make time to hear stories associated with items and to take breaks as frequently as needed. You’re there to support them and help them make the best decisions. Make the most of this situation and use it as a time to travel down memory lane and learn something new and interesting about your aging loved one.