Decluttering: An Important Step to Senior Safety

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For many of us, clutter is one of life’s little annoyances that we can’t seem to shake, no matter how old we get. It may not be as frightening as death or taxes, but it is just as certain, and – unless you’re one of the very disciplined, very organized few – just as looming.

For seniors, however, it can be a special challenge. In addition to creating a messy home and making it difficult to find things when they’re needed, clutter can increase your senior’s risk of household accidents, such as trips and falls. It can even be a fire hazard.

At Home Instead Senior Care serving the southeast valley, we have worked with many seniors and their families to reduce clutter creep. Some of our tried-and-true techniques include:

• Mail and bills
o Arrange for your senior to pay their bills online, or offer to do it for them.
o Discontinue magazine subscriptions and buy them at the newsstand instead. This will cut back on the eternal deluge of renewal notices.
o Ask that your senior be removed from mailing lists or visit one of these websites to do it for them:


• Photos and Mementos
o The most efficient way to organize photos is to digitize them. This way your senior can enjoy them on a continual loop in a digital photo frame or screen saver, or they can store them on a DVD. The downside to this is that it can be costly and/or time consuming, and your senior might not trust the technology enough to be comfortable getting rid of the “backup” photos.

o If your senior is able, they might enjoy participating in a scrapbooking group or class where they can catalogue their photos and be creative all at the same time. This is also a great activity for people of all ages to share with a senior.

o Sometimes seniors don’t necessarily want all the photos or their children’s school projects around but feel guilty about getting rid of them. Consider hosting a memory open house, where all the people who have helped your senior make these memories (their children, other relatives, friends) can come by and look through the items, taking home the things that mean something to them. Of course, even if a senior has said an item is up for grabs, the person should still double check before taking it.


• General Clutter
o Offer to help your senior sort through their closet. Designate one bin for storage and one for donations and one for trash, make sure that every item either goes in one of the bins or has an easily accessible spot where it belongs in your senior’s home.

o Every season, do an update of the closet and the storage bin. If the senior hasn’t needed the item in storage or won’t in the upcoming season, maybe it’s time to relegate it to donations or trash.

For more information about decluttering, visit For more information about the care and well-being of seniors, please contact us at 480-827-4343 or visit us on Facebook.


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