Inside: Use these tips for decluttering for seniors to help make the process a little easier!

Are you a senior who’s trying to declutter your home?

Maybe you’re decluttering for retirement. Or maybe you’re goal is to declutter and downsize.

Either way, one thing’s for sure – decluttering for seniors isn’t always easy. 

If you’re feeling sad, nervous, or overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering your home, don’t worry! While the idea might be a little intimidating, many of us can benefit from decluttering our homes, and you might be surprised to see just how beneficial it can be.

If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and declutter your home, I’m here to help you make it happen.

decluttering for seniors

Downsizing Can Be Difficult – Give Yourself Grace

Before we begin, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that decluttering for seniors can be challenging.

Sometimes, it can be really hard to say goodbye to the physical things we own. After all, most of that stuff holds some kind of meaning.

There might be gifts you were given by friends and family members. There might be stuff you really worked hard and saved up to purchase, investments that you were proud to make at the time.

Some of our physical belongings hold sentimental memories, taking us back to critical moments in our lives – weddings, birthdays, new jobs, big moves. 

It’s easy to see how it can be difficult to get rid of those things. It might cause more emotions than you expect.

My best advice? Be easy on yourself as you declutter your house.

Take the time you need to say goodbye to the stuff you’ve been holding onto for years – but keep your goal of decluttering your home in mind and stay focused on the task at hand.

Downsizing and Decluttering for Seniors: Seven Tips to Make It Easier

Step One: Create Your Goals and Remember Why You’re Decluttering

Setting a clear, achievable goal for yourself is a great way to stay focused and motivated while you’re decluttering. After all, it can be tough work.

You might get to a point where you’re ready to throw in the towel and settle on keeping all of your stuff to deal with some other day.

But by setting a clear goal for what you’re hoping to achieve and keeping the reason why you’re decluttering in mind, you’ll have a much easier time staying on track and making progress toward decluttering your home.

Step Two: Tackle Small Areas At a Time to Avoid Overwhelm

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when decluttering for seniors is to try to tackle everything at once. Not only is that simply not possible, but you’ll find yourself in an even more chaotic place than where you first started. 

Instead, try to focus on a small, specific area of your home first. Maybe it’s a certain room. It could even be as small as a closet, a cabinet, or a particular shelf.

Whatever your target, focus on it narrowly, and complete that area completely before moving on to the next one.

Step Three: Go At Whatever Pace Works for You

Decluttering isn’t a race. It’s a marathon. You’ve got a lot to get through – no need to rush.

If you try to move too quickly while you declutter, you’re going to get tired quickly, and you might even give up. 

Unless you’re trying to declutter and downsize before a specific date, you should feel free to take your time.

Whether you can spend one hour a day decluttering, or need to dedicate your full attention on weekends to the task, it’s important to go at your own pace.

decluttering for seniors

Step Four: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help!

Decluttering your home can definitely be a challenge. As a senior, it can be even tougher.

If you need help, especially when it comes to physical tasks like moving large objects or furniture, don’t hesitate to call for help. Bring in a friend, a family member, or someone else who can handle the heavy lifting. 

You don’t just have to call in help when things get heavy, though. If you’ve got a friend willing to help you declutter, take advantage of the company!

Having someone help you declutter can help the time pass more quickly – and make it a lot more fun. 

Step Five: Know It’s OK to Keep Some Things

Like I’ve said before, you don’t have to get rid of everything when you declutter. There are going to be some things that you want to keep because they’re expensive, sentimental, or otherwise special. And that’s totally OK! 

However, when it comes to keeping nostalgic items, you can quickly find yourself on a slippery slope. Once you start walking down memory lane, it can be tough to part with anything that’s part of your history. 

The easiest solution? Set a limit upfront for the number of nostalgic things you’re willing to keep.

It could be a specific number, or enough stuff to fit in a particular bin, closet, or shelf. As long as you establish a limit and stick to that, you should be in the clear. 

Focusing on the items most important to you and thinking about what you want to keep can make downsizing easier.

Step Six: Don’t Hold Onto Stuff for Others

As you declutter your home, you might find things you think your kids might want to keep. This is another way to quickly derail your decluttering plans.

You can easily find yourself with a pile of stuff set aside that you think your kids might like – and justify keeping all of that stuff around for that reason.

Instead, work with your kids as you declutter to determine what they want and what they don’t. Let them know when you’re decluttering and see if they’d like to come by to help.

Alternately, you can set aside the stuff you think they’ll like for a specific time and let them know they are welcome to stop by and grab whatever they want to keep.

Creating a decluttering deadline will let them know they only have a set amount of time to come get it before it gets donated. At the end of that time frame, it’s time to say goodbye. 

decluttering for seniors

Step Seven: Celebrate Your Wins Along the Way

Don’t wait until you’re totally done decluttering to celebrate your progress.

Instead, congratulate yourself along the way as you reach different decluttering milestones. After all, decluttering for seniors isn’t always easy.

Recognize your accomplishments and feel good about the progress that you’re making along the way. Taking those moments to celebrate can help you stay motivated to continue making progress towards your decluttering goals.

Take Time to Declutter Now: Here’s Why

The thought of decluttering might be overwhelming, but trust me – when it’s over, it can be such a relief. Decluttering is a gift to yourself, and to your family as well.

Many people don’t realize just how much stress their cluttered environment is causing until all of that clutter is gone and they can finally relax. 

You’ll be less stressed. You will have less stuff to clean and organize. You’ll be able to move more freely through your space and won’t struggle to find the things you need in your clean, decluttered home.

And those are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience from decluttering your home.

Are you downsizing and decluttering as a senior? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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10 Comments

  1. When helping my mother downsize from a 4 bedroom house to her new apartment, we had a fashion show as she tried on clothes that had filled 5 closets and multiple dressers. We had lots of laughs and reminisced. The task was much less daunting and this twist made it easier for her to choose what to keep and what to donate.

  2. Good evening. Thanks for your blog. I am a senior who was bullied in the work-place because it seems that companies are wanting to employ younger workers. I ended up with a legal battle and PTSD and 2 years on, I am starting to feel much better. I now have the energy to attend to decluttering my home and to remove 25 years of teaching resources so that my home will be simply a home with lots of space to enjoy. I have started renovating my garden too. Since all tasks are overwhelming and I had the model of a mother who would attack tasks until the entire job was done, it was quite a journey to learn to find my own way. So I began with pulling 10 weeds per day and extended to a bucket with the goal being 5 buckets each time.

    In my home, I am tackling one small area at a time. Removing 3 items is not onerus and sometimes I can remove more. I have also set myself the goal of vaccuuming and washing the floors each week. One day I might wash one window. This week I removed items from the bench outside my front door and have already planted a small flower garden in that porch area. I plan to place a carved mirror on the wall opposite the bench and have placed some fuschia plants in pots and another plant in a pot next to the front door. I have thought to tile the area with rustic tiles and place large pots in front of the bin storage area.

    I know that there is a lot to do but my home is suitable to live in until I am ready to be carried out in a box, and I love where I live. I am sure that if I continue with doing one small job at a time, eventually all will be done. It is very hard to let go 25 years of a teaching career because of the emotions attached. This job needs to be done very slowly, a few items at a time.

    I am sure your blog will give me good ideas to help my project move along.

    Thank you.

    1. I’ve recently retired too and am finding it difficult to get motivated and start decluttering. Your words really resonated and inspire me. Thank you.

    2. I’m so glad you commented. I had two years of very serious medical issues and things got really behind. Your ideas for taking it slow will be helpful as I feel so overwhelmed. Thank you.

  3. I really loved this article Julianna. My parents are not seniors yet but we have been working on decluttering for over a year and I’ve found that they are progressively willing to let go of things as they see the uses they can put the open space to. Like you said, take your time, be patient, give yourself credit for small wins, and share the process with your kids.
    I also love some of Peter Walsh’s suggestions on sharing the story of sentimental items with your family so they know the meaning. He also recommended taking pictures of items and keeping the picture and the story instead of the object. Most importantly he encouraged us to look for the best of the best. Choose one item that best represents the person or memory that you want to remember

  4. I recently retired and my daughter moved in with 3 school aged children. We swiftly declutter the entire upstairs of our house. (4,000 sq ft) It was nerve wracking for me as I forced myself to make quick decisions of things I was attached to. Now I take my time, I started on the down stairs for a year and It will still take another year to finish. It it is easier to let go now and I feel like a load is off my shoulders every trip I make to donate.
    We live in the country and it is not easy to get people out for garage sales.
    I have many pricy collections my kids don’t want. When people come over and admire things I give it to them. Makes me feel like it has a good home. Lol.

  5. I read a wonderful book about Swedish Death Cleaning. They actually gave a word for it in Sweden! At age 65 people start downsizing and getting rid of stuff. That way, when they die all their junk doesn’t become a burden to their children. Being a collector and hoarder of WAY too much stuff in WAY too many categories, it was about time to DO something about it! In 2020 I got rid of over 6,000 pounds of stuff, including over 140 stuffed toys and over 2400 books and magazines to good homes. Unfortunately, it barely made a dent in the overwhelming mass of stuff. This year I have been caring for my mom, but maybe next year I will get back to the big shovel-out!

  6. Like Jessalyn, I also love this article. I am in the decluttering mode at the moment and it truly is hard to part with things that brings back memories of my kids childhood. But this list is attainable, I just need to stick to what needs to be done and be less emotional. I will consider Peter Walsh’s suggestion to take pictures of items and keep the picture and the story instead of the object….it will take up less space, as we know it. The best of the best will stay with me, promise. And will ask the boys (actually aged 27 and 25) which items they would want to keep for when they have kids of their own.

  7. i took a photo and scrapbooked a few precious things before decluttering them. Children asked me…do you still have those items?… oops

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