Clutter — it stresses us out, bogs us down and makes our lives feel chaotic. For many older adults, clutter can also be a household hazard, threatening to cause debilitating falls. From stray shoes to piles of books, seemingly harmless objects can become some of biggest sources of mental and physical strife.
Fortunately, you can clear your mind and prevent falls by simply tidying up. Looking around a cluttered house, you may feel like there’s no better way to organize your things. Try applying the following eight tips, though, and you’ll soon live in a cleaner, less stressful home.
1. Organize Your Walls
Many houses are short on cupboard space, leading their owners to place kitchenware, food and odd objects in inconvenient spots. To make up for a lack of storage space, install shelves on empty walls. Put these shelves at waist height or slightly higher to clear your floors and allow for easy access.
2. Use Drawer Dividers
From your kitchen to your bedroom, drawers can become wild and cluttered in a matter of days. To cut down on the visual mess and keep track of small items, use dividers and trays in your drawers.
3. Tidy Your Entries
The areas around the front door and inner garage door are some of the most cluttered, hazardous spots in any house. If you’re short on space, use door-hanging shoe storage, install coat hangers on your wall, and use cubbies to hold shoes, keys and other odds and ends.
4. Cull Your Wardrobe
Most seniors have accumulated clothes for decades. While some pieces have sentimental value, chances are you have more than a few items you no longer need. To free up closet space and make your bedroom feel larger, sell or donate the clothes you no longer wear.
5. Make Miscellaneous Drawers
Where do you store candles, batteries and other important but seldom-used objects? For many people, these miscellaneous items are hard to find whenever they’re needed — but a constant source of clutter when they’re not. To get them out of the way without losing track, set aside a couple of drawers, and use dividers and labels to keep similar items together.
6. Clear Your Computer Desktop
Seniors are spending more and more time on their computers, and a messy desktop can be just as distracting as a cluttered house. Clear out unused icons and old, unnecessary files to make it easier to find the documents you need. Likewise, delete old emails and create subfolders for important messages.
7. Go Paperless
If you use a computer for email, banking and bill pay, chances are you can also get rid of most of your paper. Whenever possible, choose the online-only option with companies that send statements and invoices. You’ll have far less mail, and most of what you do receive will be junk you can quickly discard.
8. Clean as You Go
The best way to keep down clutter is to avoid it in the first place. Scattered shoes, unmade beds and unwashed dishes can make an otherwise clean house feel messy and unorganized. To keep your pathways clear and your stress levels low, make it a habit to clean each area of your house as soon as you’re done with it.
Decluttering is an ongoing task and is so important to staying healthy — both physically and mentally. If you’re looking for more ways to stay active and healthy, download our Vitality Guide.