One of the great stresses faced by seniors and boomers today is the stuff of their lives which seems to follow them around. Older adults may notice a breath of fresh air when they find a way to make decisions which will de-clutter their lives and enrich their days.
Seniors Can Decrease Clutter By Making Decisions
There are things in one’s living space which almost call to be put away, discarded, recycled to another owner who would cherish them. Personal organizer Kate Rhoad defines clutter as “the physical manifestation of indecision.” Too much “stuff” stresses older people’s lives and makes it hard to navigate through daily life.
An especially good time to start this process is during a move. Decisions can be made to keep, discard, recycle, or give to someone who will need and cherish that object. There can be a number of savings found by going through each item before packing it to be moved.
- Money can be saved in decreasing packing and shipping costs by culling out unneeded items before moving.
- A huge saving in time and energy of the older adult by eliminating the packing, then unpacking, of items no longer needed in daily life.
- Clutter which continues to follow a senior around presents a constant stress of knowing one should make that decision while continuing to put out the extra energy of avoiding it.
Seniors Letting Go to Enrich Their Lives
All older adults have things in their home which remind them of cherished memories. However, sometimes it’s a little too easy to hang onto too much stuff in cases where keeping a picture or one smaller item would still honor the memory while letting go of items no longer needed or used. Letting go of something may take sitting with a cup of coffee, remembering, then making a proactive choice to bless it and let it go.
Sometimes the decisions involved in letting go can cause seniors and boomers to move, knowing they don’t need the extra space, larger lawn to mow, etc. Such life transitions, although they take some energy at first, may bring great peace and satisfaction once the downsizing is completed.
Empty nests offer the opportunity to reassign usage of space within one’s home, yet it can be tempting to hold on to the past by not letting go of those things. Consider that the good memories are not compromised by moving on with life, whether it be possessions of a departed loved one or just items from children or other family members who have moved on to other phases of their lives. Rather than keeping lots of objects, think about grouping them into a picture and then moving them out of the living space into a place where they can be currently used, be it Goodwill, relatives, etc.
By dealing with items and memories one at a time, there are not too many things to make those long-avoided decisions about at one time. Thus improvement can come into one’s life as stuff decreases. This can be crucial for elderly people’s safety since falls do sometimes occur due to stacks of things which could have been dealt with by letting go of some objects and finding a safe place for others.
The Need for a System of Letting Go of Things
Much of Western civilization only has a few culturally engrained methods of giving up stuff:
Yet in order for older adults to maintain a safe and uncluttered living space, this must be done on a regular basis. Once seniors develop a regular habit of decreasing clutter, they often report feeling a great burden off their minds. A life with less clutter is not only much safer, but also allows for reduced stress and more happiness. This therapeutic effect spreads a more peaceful feeling into one’s whole life.
But for this to be done there is a need for a simple system of regular decluttering which is freeing to the older adults who start in that direction. Maintaining must be as normal and regular as brushing teeth. Old habits have to be replaced with new ones; choosing to stop the old habit of ignoring the accumulation is only the first step.
People understand trash must be processed on a regular basis in order to make its way through the system. The same idea applies to a regular system of moving unneeded things on through one’s life space. The first step in setting up a lifestyle which includes organized spaces is to clean out. This can happen more easily with a friend, family member, or a professional organizer.
Seniors and Boomers can reduce stress by making decisions. This can be done by letting go of things, places and habits which no longer serve their current life. There is a need for a system of letting go of things on a regular basis. Such a change in lifestyle can bring older adults to a point where life is more manageable and fulfilling since they are not having to focus in several directions and can attend to the present and their own current lives.
Source: Some of the above ideas came from interviews in the fall of 2009 with Kate Rhoad, professional organizer near Houston, Texas.