Cluttered Garage

The first week in August is “Simplify Your Life Week”. This is a great theme and we’ll be offering some simple tips and ideas leading up to it, as well as regular doses of inspiration during the week (come on over to our Facebook page!).

Today, we’d like to tackle one of the “simplification” issues near and dear to us. We work with many seniors who need to transition to senior housing, or simply have years of stuff that has become overwhelming (and at times, unsafe) in their home. Too often, we hear from families who are dealing with how to get rid of mountains of belongings when their loved one relocates to Assisted Living, or after the person’s death. Dealing with all that stuff at a time of crisis and loss is stressful and does not allow the time to properly deal with it (along with everything else!).

This is why we encourage everyone to use Simplify Your Life Week as a time for a mini (or not so mini!) downsize. Doing at least a yearly purge has so many benefits! First, you won’t stick yourself or your loved ones with that stressful, unpleasant crisis situation (or it will be a lot easier to face at least). Most importantly, it feels good to simplify and helps you treasure what you do have. You might be able to avoid buying things you already have, but can’t locate. You could possibly find some treasures that have an emotional memory for you, and take the time to share it with someone you care about. It also helps keep your home environment clean, safe and more pleasant.

So, how do you go about a “mini” downsize?

  1. Consider tackling a specific and reasonable area. Is there one closet that is the catch-all for old items or desk drawers which have become the dumping ground for all papers and trinkets? Plan to purge and organize that spot.
  2. Sort in to piles: keep, give away and trash. The give-away pile might include charitable donations as well as items you specifically want to gift to a particular person. After your initial sort, go back and look at your “keep” pile again and reconsider your reason for keeping the item.
  3. Consider ways to capture the emotional connection of the item without keeping it (or by repurposing it). For example, old tickets or paper items picked up on travel or from events could be used to cover a notebook or cover a little table. Make a collage of old photos (or scan them in to digital form to enjoy on your PC, tablet or phone any time) you really would like to enjoy rather than hiding them away. Going through items might allow you to reminisce about the memory and then purge the item. Or, you can take a digital photo to have a “memory” of the item (maybe it can become your screensaver). Read some fun ideas from Ask the Unclutterer (the readers’ comments offer all kinds of ideas).
  4. Find more efficient ways to store necessary items. Scanning documents and photos can save a lot of space, but make sure to backup properly. Go through files on a regular basis to purge excess paperwork. Make sure paperwork and small items are well-labeled and easy to access. Reorganize your pantry to ensure you can see and reach food, and get rid of expired items. Do the same for closets or areas where you keep supplies, so you avoid buying more of what you already have.

This is a good project to work on with older relatives over time. When you visit, you can take some time together to go through rooms and do some purging. Hopefully, this gives you and your loved one some time to talk, reminisce and share. Our EasyLiving Personal Care Assistants can also be hired for various organizing and cleaning projects if you need some help!

When you do find yourself in the position of having to do a big downsize/transition, this regular maintenance will make a big difference. There are also lots of resources to help with big moves. Check out the Aging Wisely blog for Downsizing a Lifetime of Belongings and An Interview with an Estate Liquidation Expert.

Contact us at 727-447-5845 if you need help with home safety, household projects and maintenance or relocating. Join us on Facebook during Simplify Your Life Week for some continued inspiration to KEEP IT SIMPLE!