Helping Older Parents Organize and Streamline

It’s not often the case, but once in a while older parents will ask for help finding a new home for things they no longer use.  It’s more likely that seniors will avoid purging because it’s a reminder of their own mortality and they would rather spend their time on more uplifting tasks.  But sometimes, possessions themselves become a burden and a danger for falls by getting in the way of optimal daily living.

Taking parents up on requests for help to get rid of stuff can lead to great discussions about the past you may not have heard and by finding a good home for clothes or household items, seniors can feel encouraged to part with their hoard.  There are a few simple questions to ask that may make the purging process easier.

What to Ditch?

  • It is broken?  Donate or discard – check for electronics recycling programs in your area.
  • Dry clean only?  Probably won’t happen.  Consider a consignment shop for high-end clothes or furs.
  • Nothing to wear with it? Don’t hold on to something you can’t wear in the hopes you will find something to go with it.
  • Too many of one thing?  More than a dozen cardigans or black shoes….pick your favourites and donate the rest.
  • Mismatched or worn towels, linens or dishes – donate.  Pet shelters often take old linens.
  • Books – donate excess to local library used-book sales
  • Chipped dishes – donate (you can always bring out disposable plates and glasses for the occasional large group).

Adult children may want to research where vintage clothing would be in demand; community or high school theater groups are often looking for costuming from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Most of us only wear a small percentage of the clothes, accessories and shoes that we own.  If you haven’t worn it in over a year, you probably won’t even miss the item.  Don’t hold on to things while trying to drop five or ten pounds, by the time that happens, the items will likely be out of style anyway.  Only keep comfortable clothes and shoes that are in good repair.

Keep or Find a Good Home

Vinyl is making a huge comeback and grandkids may be very interested in a working turntable, speakers and crates of albums.  Manual typewriters, portable radios and cassette tapes/players as well as Polaroid cameras are also seeing a revival.  These treasures could be a great way to bridge the gap between generations.  One generation’s junk is another’s treasure.  Happy sorting!