Senior Living Advice: Start 2024 by decluttering your home

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By BETH DOW, Home Helpers Home Care

A report from 2021 stated that the average American has about 300,000 items in their home!  While that is overwhelming, as I look around my home, I’m afraid that is on the low side.

Today I sit in my home not only with the items I built a home around, but with items from my grandparents, my parents, my in-laws and my sister.  All who passed and whose belongings made their way to my home.

I also have items that my children, now grown, didn’t take with them.  The sad truth is that as we age, experience life, and out-live  family members, we accumulate stuff … lots of stuff.  In fact, 1 in 10 Americans use off-site storage just to hold their excess belongings.

January may be the perfect time to get rid of some of our excess clutter.  With colder, dreary weather, staying inside to declutter is much easier than if you wait until the warmer spring days.  And as they say  … there is no time like the present. So why not get started.

Uncluttering a home is overwhelming.  But uncluttering a room, a corner, a desk or a drawer can seem much more doable.  Just as you eat an elephant one bite at time, you can declutter your home one room at a time.  With a plan, you can get your entire home decluttered in just a few months.

First step is to pick a room.  Maybe not the worse room, but a starting point.  Next, determine if the room can be broken down into sections – starting with a desk, a closet or filing cabinet – may make sense.  Once these smaller places have been decluttered you can move to the full room.

Many experts suggest that the best way to declutter is to sort every item into one of three piles: Keep, Throw Out or Donate.  If you find it hard to assign an item to one of the defined piles, you can have a “Maybe” pile.  These items get a second pass to determine if they are needed or can be let go.

Another way to ease into decluttering is to go through your home and remove items that are broken or unused.  If you didn’t use certain Christmas decorations this year, there is a good chance you wouldn’t use them next year either.  If you have broken furniture or appliances that you are planning on getting repaired, one day – that one day may have passed.   And if you have gifted items from years past still in boxes, those need to find a new home.

As you are going through and decluttering, be mindful that when you do find an item that you want to keep, be sure that you put it in the most appropriate place.  We all have that junk drawer in the kitchen.  Half of the items in that junk drawer need to be thrown away while the other half just need to be taken to their rightful place.  Making sure all items are in their logical place and remembering to put it back there, helps minimize clutter spots from popping up. Whether that be the kitchen drawer, a countertop or the bottom of the stairs.     

The hardest part of decluttering is getting started!  Start small.  Pick an area you want to declutter and go.  Decluttering is a great way to start a new year.  Put it out the door in 2024!

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. She is also the owner of Home Helpers of GA & AL in Newnan. Readers can contact her by email at [email protected].

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