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We all know how certain things get more difficult as we get older, and cleaning is perhaps the biggest example.

Whether through a lack of physical energy or a difficulty in getting rid of items that can have sentimental value, decluttering can be a difficult task for the elderly. And while we’re (usually) always happy to help our parents declutter and clean up around the house, it can be tough to know what exactly should be done, or how to get it all done in the most effective way.

Are you looking to help your elderly parents or relatives declutter and clean up around the house, but aren’t sure how to get started? Here’s a few of our tips:

 

Helping Elderly Relatives Clean & Declutter

 

Start by identifying anything that could be a hazard

While helping senior citizens to identify stuff they could get rid of can be a task of its own, the best place to start is with anything that could potentially be dangerous for them to have around. Look for small furniture that hasn’t been used in a while (like footstools and small tables), electrical cords that need to be taped down, and other potential tripping/fall hazards around the house and get rid of (or secure) these items first.

 

From there, sort out by need

The rules for helping an elderly relative declutter aren’t much different from doing it yourself. Work with them to identify anything they haven’t used for a while, such as clothes that no longer fit, books they’ll never read again, and the like to see what they can get rid of.

This may involve a bit of discussion, as they may have developed a sentimental attachment to the items over time, or otherwise can’t bring themselves to get rid of it. Take these items on a case-by-case basis, but it’s important to gently remind them of the importance of decluttering and why they should get rid of stuff every so often.

 

Prioritize what they still use

Of course, you’re not going to get rid of everything. An equally important factor of any decluttering project is to make it easier to access the stuff you actually use every day, and this goes double for senior citizens that may have a harder time getting around the house.

Ask them what they use most often. It could be the TV remote, a tablet they use for reading books or visiting Facebook, maybe a few smaller appliances in the kitchen, or anything they need to get them through the day. As you donate or give away everything they no longer use, make sure to keep track of their most important goods so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

 

Organize in a way that works for them

While “home organization” can mean a lot of different things to different people, special care needs to be given to decluttering projects involving elderly family members. Equal care and attention needs to be given to reorganizing their home in such a way as to make it easier for them to get around and live their lives the best way they can.

Accordingly, consider reworking some of their furniture and storage to help them get around more easily. For example, if they’re an avid reader, try using bookshelves at a height they can easily reach so they can get to some of their favorite books on their own. For living room furniture, where they likely spend a lot of their time, try to make sure their end tables and coffee tables are arranged in a way that poses a lower risk of falling, and when you set up things like home wall shelves, always try to keep their needs for mobility and accessibility in mind.

And, above all else, make sure you always listen to them. No matter how much you want to help your parents, they’ll know what’s best for them, and it will make the whole thing go much more smoothly if you let them help.

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