There are many possible reasons for wanting to help your elderly parent declutter. Some common reasons include simply wishing to help your elderly parent have a more organized and clean home, or helping them to downsize so they can move in with you or into an assisted living facility. Regardless of the reasons, helping a parent declutter after a lifetime of accumulating belongings can be uniquely challenging. Here are five tips for making the decluttering process easier:
Create a System
If your parent's home is chock-full of stuff, decluttering probably seems like a daunting proposition. In order for both of you to feel in control of the process, it's best to create a decluttering system at the outset. This system should include a plan for how long the decluttering process will take, if you plan to go room-by-room or in some other order, and how you will deal with the items your parent chooses to get rid of.
Here's an example of an easy to follow decluttering system:
Take Your Time Instead of Rushing
You parent will most likely have conflicted and possibly quite negative emotions about getting rid of their belongings. The process can be much less overwhelming for both of you if you tackle it a little at a time, starting months before any deadline (such as a moving date). This will also allow you to help them declutter here and there in your spare time instead of missing work or spending whole weekends cleaning out their home.
Set Aside "Must Keep" Items
Allow your parent to decide if there are items they absolutely must hold onto. These may include valuable antiques or perhaps sentimental items like letters, photos, or jewelry. Have an open discussion with your parent about these belongings and what their wishes are to prevent any potential conflicts or misunderstandings. Some families find it helpful to create a written document listing the items and any specific instructions for caring for or storing these objects.
Rent a Self-Storage Unit
If your parent must downsize but they aren't willing to part with that many of their things, consider renting a self-storage unit, such as those found at sites like http://www.getepicstorage.com. This is an affordable, secure way to store your parent's beloved belongings without allowing them to create a ton of clutter in your parent's home. Your parent will rest easy knowing they don't have to actually get rid of anything they don't want to, and you will still be able to help them create a safe and uncluttered home environment. Any time your parent wants one of the items back, they can simply be taken out of storage.
Hire a Professional Organizer
If helping your parent declutter turns into a bigger task than you can manage on your own, consider hiring a professional organizer. Professional organizers will meet you at your parent's home and help create a plan for organizing and decluttering that follows a logical system while also being sensitive to your parent's personal preferences.
This can be especially helpful if decluttering becomes an emotionally charged, tense subject between you and your parent. They may respond much more openly to a neutral third-party professional, and you will be able to help your parent declutter while removing yourself from a more active role.
By following these tips, you can help your aging parent declutter and organize without causing unnecessary emotional pain.
If you are planning a short-distance move, you may be considering taking on the moving challenge on your own. Really, how hard could it be to move all of your things a few miles up the road? I can tell you through my own personal experience that it is more difficult than you might think. If you are considering having a few friends help you by driving some pick-up trucks filled with your things and making multiple trips with the hopes of saving money, you probably won't save money. This blog contains several tips that can help you make your short-distance move easier and more affordable.