“Aging In Place Is Easier With Less Clutter In The Way”

A bulging closet cries out for some TLC to help return it to a more orderly setting, but we have been challenged this year in finding the time to tackle such issues – it’s still on our “to-do” list


Clutter seems unavoidable

Clutter is all around us, and it seems inevitable. All of us collect things and tend to retain and hold on them – some more than others. It could even be groceries that we brought home and haven’t finished putting them away or the mail that we set down to review later. Things have a way of just happening.

However, as we go through life, a certain amount of lifetime treasures help us remember and relive pleasant events in our past. Nevertheless, too many of them can make us feel overwhelmed or stressed just by the sheer amount of them.

By the time we have grown old enough that we no longer look forward to birthdays or even keep track of them, we likely have collected a substantial amount of keepsakes, obsolete items, notes, articles, magazines, things the kids once used, old sporting or camping equipment, clothing we have outgrown or that no longer is stylish, and outdated technology products.

Retaining items is not the culprit

There is nothing wrong with collecting these memorabilia, souvenirs, and keepsakes as we journey through life – unless they get so numerous and abundant that they begin to crowd us in our living space. When the closets get so full, or the attic, or basement, or garage, or shed, we may want to think about thinning out some of our possessions. The alternative is to get a larger home or rent a storage space.

The act of hanging onto things to remind us of the past has value. It’s just when they get so numerous or that we have no organized place to keep them that the issues arise.

To our rescue, so to speak, comes the calendar.

Taking housecleaning cues from the calendar

There are certain times of the year that just seem to be made for cleaning out, throwing out, making donations, and organizing our stuff – what we we are holding onto. In some cases, what we are holding onto still has considerable value – cookware, tableware, seasonal decorations, camping gear, books, photos, and tools, for instance.

Without these prompts in the schedule, we may overlook natural opportunities to cull some our clutter and add a little more organization to our lives.

2020 has been a special year – a difficult one for many of us. This has impacted how we clean out our homes and organize our stuff. One the one hand, it would seem that this would have been the perfect time to sort through things and take a hard look at what we were keeping. On the other, with extra people in the home and attending to their needs, cleaning and organizing had to take second place.

Spring cleaning generally gets us started in the right direction

Everyone is familiar with the concept of spring cleaning. It doesn’t occur on a certain date, but when the freshness of springtime hits us, we feel compelled to open the windows and begin sorting through – and tossing or creating a donation pile – items that have lost their usefulness or meaning for us. In some cases, we vowed that this would their last winter, and springtime means that their time has come.

That said, however, the COVID-19 cocooning that we all have experienced has limited the amount of effort we have been able to devote to simply reviewing and eliminating some of the excess items we have been keeping.

Spring cleaning really didn’t happen this year and will have to be held over until 2021.

Other opportunities to clean out have been missed

Generally, at the end of the school year, we can sort through clothing, school supplies, shoes, outerwear, books, sporting goods, and other items that got us through one more season but no longer are needed. Since there was no definitive end to the school term, this opportunity largely was lost.

Similarly, we often take the summer to review what will be good to have on hand for the new school term and what we can release, but in many areas, a physical return to the classroom is not happening or has been delayed. This certainly complicates this part of our routine.

The holidays are coming

Regardless of all the challenges we have faced this year, the end of year holidays are fast approaching – giving us another opportunity to review what we have in closets, drawers, the garage, and other storage areas to begin making a little progress at thinning out what we have.

Aging in place is easier and safer when there is less clutter in our homes, but this has not been a typical year. There’s always next year!

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