According to professional organizer and author, Peter Walsh, clutter is not only physical possessions but also whatever is getting in the way of living the life you want to be living. Hanging on to stuff that holds memories, or that “might be useful in the future” can wind up preventing people from moving forward and living fully in the present. A cluttered home can not only be unsafe for older adults, but an overwhelming amount of stuff can cause stress and anxiety.
Studies have found that a clean and organized living space not only helps households run more smoothly but can also reduce stress and increase happiness and harmony. Decluttering and organizing reduce anxiety; a clean space creates a visual calm and when everything has its place, time and money are saved because items are easily found and fewer new purchases are necessary. Imagine not having to spend a half-hour hunting for a roll of tape or a Phillips head screwdriver?
In a home where possessions take over, people can feel overwhelmed and stuck, less able to enjoy the present moment. Instead of keeping every item that evokes a memory, taking a photograph can help individuals let go of more things, find the true treasures they want to keep, and take control over the home environment they want to create. Donating items to those in need this time of year feels good. Thinning out possessions can be an empowering way to help others while creating a safer environment for yourself.
In recent years, there has been a growing trend to eliminate gifting loved-ones unnecessary things and rather focusing on gifts of experience and shared time. Older adults have a wealth of skills to teach the younger generations; instead of buying a new toy or item of clothing that may not be needed, why not share a family recipe and cook together in person or virtually? Volunteering together, crafting, or learning a new skill will not only build stronger relationships but can help friends and families can give one another the most valuable gift there is; time and new memories to cherish.