Is your aging parent or elderly loved one hesitant to toss anything? If you’ve noticed clutter everywhere from the kitchen countertops to closets and even the top of the dresser, there are lots of potential reasons seniors love to “hoard” things. It may simply be your loved one doesn’t have the energy to deal with the mess, or that he/she has the need to conserve or keeps things out of loyalty or sentimental attachment. Physical objects are precious memories for a lot of seniors, but you can help them gently ease out some of the clutter.
Is your loved one a clothes hoarder? Maybe your mom thinks she’ll lose weight and be able to fit into those smaller sizes one day, even though she hasn’t worn them in years. You can help out by asking mom to put the clothes she hasn’t worn in a while in a box or tote, then consider donating the clothes to charity if she doesn’t wear anything in the tote within the next six months.
Seniors are inclined to conserve. Maybe it goes back to difficult economic times, but seniors are “green” people who don’t want to waste or throw away anything that’s perfectly good. Convince your loved one that he/she can give and help others, and that letting go will make him or her feel better because the giving helps someone else in need.
Loyalty to loved ones and friends. Many seniors feel guilty about parting with gifts given to them over the years by friends and family, regardless of what the gift is or if they’ve ever used it. By returning a gift that’s unused or in good condition back to the giver (for instance, grandchildren) they will have something to cherish in the future.
Boxes and boxes of photos. Certainly old photos are packed with special memories, and seniors don’t want to get rid of them. Persuade your loved one to have photos converted to DVD or to start scrapbooking. Either, or both, will preserve those special memories while helping clear away some of the clutter!
Having lots of stuff can often take the place of a companion, but it shouldn’t. Everywhere your aging loved one looks there are things that bring back memories of holidays, a departed spouse or child, grandchildren, events, etc. This could indicate your loved one is simply lonely or depressed, and either can make organization difficult. Talk to your loved one about getting a caregiver who can not only help clean, organize, prepare meals and handle other tasks, but also provide companionship as well.
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