Ways to Help Your Parents Reduce Their Clutter

March 26, 2024

A live well lived often has some collector’s items to go along with it! With each chapter in life there come some keepsakes and mementos. As these items accumulate, clutter may begin to take over and cause a negative impact on your parent’s mental health. 

Decluttering before it is time to downsize or move into an assisted living facility will be better for everyone involved because it will decrease anxiety, reduce the stress of a quick deadline, and allow your parents to have more voice and control. 

Benefits of Decluttering 

Decluttering has benefits on overall health, including mental health, which include reducing stress, minimizing safety hazards, and improved mood. When talking about this with your parents, point out that decluttering sooner rather than later will allow:

  • Time to declutter without feeling stressed or rushed as they will have plenty of time to work one room or category at a time. 

  • The ability to take note of items that are truly used by them so they are only keeping what is most needed/ wanted.

  • The ability to pass items on to others who may truly experience joy by having them. 

  • You and your parents can make memories together as you share the time and recall memories. Be intentional about this!

  • Be sensitive to feelings and allow time for emotions to be experienced. 

  • Decluttering together allows you to hear the stories of items that are meaningful to your parents. Photographing items for a scrapbook and writing down the stories or even videoing the home and having your parents tell stories as they hold items can be a clutter-free, compact way to preserve memories that will last for generations to come.

Have a Plan

Start with a conversation that will help you determine the readiness of your loved one. Your conversation should include hopes, goals and desires for sorting through their belongings. Remember to respect your parent’s feelings. When they are ready, it will help to make a plan of action. 

Consider the whole timeline. It would be best to allow at least a month to completely go through your parent’s entire house, one room at a time. Breaking the work up into smaller chunks and then having a system, or plan, will help keep a positive energy flowing. 

Consider rooms that may not exist in the new home, such as an office, home gym, or extra bedroom. Starting with these rooms may create a positive energy that sets the tone for the rest of the rooms. Furniture takes up a lot of space and is also often less emotional than other items, so it may also be a good idea to start here. Another idea is to start with a category, such as magazines or books. Wherever you start, sort items into three groups: 

Keep, Toss, Donate

Having a “Maybe” pile may simply delay the need to pass things along. Keep trash bags, boxes, and masking tape or labels to keep things organized. 

Brightstar Care offers in-home care and medical staffing that can help support you and your loved one. Contact us for more information about our high-quality services.