Conquer the Clutter Conundrum

by Joan Ente, L.C.S.W., A.C.S.W., C-A.S.W.C.M.

With understanding, encouragement, coaching and support, much can be accomplished.

In many households, clutter is a way of life. Looking around, we often find we have things we don’t need; things we don’t use; and things we don’t necessarily want.

How do people accumulate so many belongings? Many items are inherited or passed along by loved ones. Some were acquired for a special occasion, with a special purpose in mind but never used again. There are also collectibles,once displayed and dear to our hearts, but long past their meaningful time. Our precious “things,” even untouched, become part of our homes, our identities and the backdrop of our lives.

Added to this, the post office continues to deliver avalanches of snail mail to our homes each day. There are advertisements, circulars, junk mail, magazines and subscriptions. Paper clutter has an insidious way of piling up if not processed immediately.

It is hard to predict when clutter will run rampant or become a serious issue. Problems can develop if there is no organized household system for acquiring, storing, processing and recycling one’s belongings, records and papers. Clutter can eventually overtake a person’s living space. Piles of clutter may interfere with getting safely from room to room and create real hazards, especially for older adults with impaired vision or limited mobility.

But there is hope. Older adults can learn new ways to sort through accumulated papers and possessions. It is possible to develop systems for throwing away, donating or returning items that took years to collect. Think about the rooms in your house–your home office, garage, attic, kitchen, closets, basement–and ask yourself what you may not need. Do you have:

  • Closets full of clothing that you have not worn in the past year?
  • Stacks of magazines that you are going to “read someday”?
  • Numerous TVs in your basement that have not been used in 20 years?
  • Paperclips, tape, string, markers and rulers in your office drawers that you have never used?
  • Boxes of photos that you are going to get framed someday?
  • Kitchen drawers full of recipes that you are going to cook someday?

With understanding, encouragement, coaching and support, much can be accomplished. And CJE has just the thing for you.

The professional staff members of Your Eldercare Consultants have extensive experience in clutter management. They have given many successful and well attended presentations in the community that have received enthusiastic response.

For more information about Your Eldercare Consultants, visit our is external) or contact Barbara Sarasin at 773.508.4920.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of LIFE, CJE SeniorLife's quarterly magazine.