As you’re planning your major aging-in-place home remodeling and renovation projects, my guess is that decluttering isn’t on your short list of to-dos. However, clutter can be a big safety issue in aging-in-place homes.
The most obvious benefit of decluttering: removing clutter means you’re removing tripping hazards. Beyond physical safety, an aging-in-place home should care for a senior’s psychological health needs, too. Uncluttered homes are proven to reduce stress and anxiety no matter your age. And, when counters, tables, and floors are clear, the house is easier to clean and keep clean. Removing household clutter has so many benefits for adults aging in place.
Convincing Your Parent to Declutter Isn’t Always an Easy Task
It’s one thing to understand the benefits of decluttering when you’re aging in place. It’s a whole other thing to convince your parent that it’s time to throw away the clothes they’ve had hanging in the closet for a decade or finally part with the collection of knick-knacks sitting on every shelf, table and countertop.
And, it’s understandable. Older adults have so many memories wrapped up in their belongings that purging what’s truly ‘unnecessary’ is emotional and can quickly become a touchy subject.
Our desire to hold onto the non-essential items we love is actually why decluttering is the perfect exercise for adults who want to age in their homes. Decluttering and giving each item a place to live means fewer items have to be given away.
Decluttering Requires a Little Prep Work and a Lot of Home Organizing Products
You need to create places for your household items to live in order to not only declutter your parent’s home but make it easy for them to keep their home decluttered after you leave. Here are some of the best products to help them get organized.
Decluttering while still making the most of every square inch of closet space is a job for a hanging storage shelf. Storage shelves that hang in a closet take up minimal clothing rod space, giving bulky clothes a place to live and making it easier for your parent to find the clothes they need.
Bending down to pick up a pair of shoes can cause your parent to lose their balance and fall. By organizing shoes and getting them up off the ground with a tall shoe rack, your parent can use the top shelves to store shoes at eye level – no bending required.
If your parent has clothes they just can’t part with, clothing storage bags are a great option. I especially suggest these large bags for comforters when they’re not in use in the summer – a much safer alternative than throwing a blanket up on the top shelf that could potentially fall on top of your parent.
If your parent has collected clothing over the years that either they need to keep or just can’t part with, adding an armoire to create extra closet space is another safe alternative to piling loose clothing on the top shelf of a closet. I always recommend adding armoires in aging-in-place bedrooms because, unlike shelves, clothes are hung at eye-level. Your parent doesn’t have to bend down and risk losing their balance and falling while getting dressed.
Pantries have a way of getting cluttered all on their own (or so it seems) which can make it hard for your parent to find what they need, especially if their eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Clear storage bins are the simplest way to keep pantry items organized and easy to find. Your parent can easily slide out each bin and safely reach what they need.
Pull-out baskets were made for the aging-in-place home. If your parent reaches too far into the back of the pantry, they can easily lose their balance, especially if the pantry’s shelves are deep. These pull-out baskets bring pantry items to them, putting everything they need front and center.
Home Office Station
Everyone has that pile of mail that sits on the kitchen counter. Get rid of mail clutter and clear off the counter with a simple letter holder. Your parent can keep letters and bills in one spot so they never go missing.
For larger pieces of mail, a magazine holder keeps catalogs, pamphlets and magazines in one place rather than spread out on counters and tables throughout the house.
We all have that one drawer where we shove all of our miscellaneous items that don’t have a home – I call this the clutter drawer. You don’t want your parent sifting through a cluttered drawer to find a pen, a pair of scissors, a note pad, or anything else, especially if they have poor eyesight or sore hands. A home office organizer is a simple fix. You place this desk organizer anywhere, even on the end of your kitchen counter, to give everything that’s currently in the clutter drawer a place to live.
Don’t forget about the garage. A garage is another place that seems to attract clutter that ends up on the floor. And a cluttered garage floor can lead to an older adult, especially one with mobility issues, falling onto a hard concrete floor. Look for an adjustable storage shelf with multiple height options. You don’t want your parent reaching up onto a tall shelf and losing their balance.
Rakes, shovels, and brooms should not lay on the floor of a garage in an aging-in-place home. A tool hanger is a simple fix that gets outdoor tools off the floor and onto the wall at eye-level. If your parent wants to take care of the yard or garden – and it’s safe for them to do so – this product is a must.
Check Out Our Other Aging-in-Place Declutter Articles!
If you’re looking to drill down on specific areas of the house to declutter, look no further than my room-by-room declutter articles.
- Decluttering the Aging-in-Place Kitchen
A cluttered kitchen can present safety hazards in the aging-in-place home. Make decluttering the kitchen a priority and keep it clutter-free with these four rules and essential products.
- Decluttering the Aging-in-Place Bathroom
Decluttering is just as important as many other aging-in-place home projects, especially in the bathroom where slips and falls are most common. Follow my four basic rules for aging-in-place bathroom decluttering and create a safe, well-organized bathroom for your parent.
It’s Time to Declutter!
Getting your parent’s home organized may seem like a pretty daunting task, but once you get started and have the right products ready to go, you’ll make an immediate improvement in the safety of their home. Use the comments section below if you need more product recommendations as you get to work.
Good luck with your next aging-in-place home project!