6 Decluttering Tips for Seniors

room cluttered with moving boxes

Whether you’re getting ready to downsize into a smaller home or just want to get rid of some excess stuff, decluttering can be a daunting task. 

 

Most people reaching retirement look to downsize their property. But transferring all your things to your new home will add nothing but clutter, and it is something to avoid when looking for a simpler way of life. 

 

Equally, if you’ve already made a move and still find your life overflowing with belongings, making space is essential, especially if you’re looking for clarity, wanting to invite house guests over, or if mobility becomes increasingly challenging. 

 

Which is why we’ve made a short list of six decluttering tips for seniors to make the process easier and less stressful.

 

Why Seniors Should Declutter

Before you consider decluttering, asking yourself why you should declutter in your 60s and beyond may offer a bit of motivation. 

 

Studies have found that clutter:

 

And the real reason why you should declutter is simple – you are about to enter a new phase in life, and your needs will change.

 

While there are many practical reasons to declutter in your senior years, understanding how to do it is more challenging. Every object will feel laden with memories or have a purpose that you feel is essential. 

 

Here are some practical decluttering tips for seniors to help get you started.

 

6 Decluttering Tips for Seniors

#1 Give Yourself Time When Decluttering

Taking on the task of lightening your load is a big deal and can become overwhelming. When the job seems big, we can easily procrastinate or find reasons to argue that everything is important to us. 

 

Therefore, tip number one is to go slow, take it one micro-step at a time, and chip away at the task. Setting aside 15 minutes for a quick go can help make the job feel manageable. You might even find that after 15 minutes, there is enough motivation to continue.

 

As we’ve already written in our article on how to declutter; simply by creating four piles of recycling, throwing away, donating, or relocating, you can start to clear the way of clutter. 

 

fours boxes in a cluttered garage
Use four boxes to organize your belongings

 

Keep reminding yourself that everything you own needs to be maintained as you do this. So, getting rid of it will leave you time for more pleasurable activities in retirement.

 

#2 Capture the Memory and Keep Moving

It is tempting to reminisce as you declutter, which is by far the most likely reason you end up keeping everything you own. You open a drawer to clear it out, and there are some photos on top, and suddenly you are sitting chatting away about the times shown.

 

If you happen upon some other special object and provoke memories, take a picture of it and add it to the recycle, donate, or throw away pile. All those memories from the physical object will be captured in the photograph. 

 

Alternatively, writing down the story that goes with the object to create history as a keepsake makes decluttering a wonderfully creative experience.

 

#3 Make a Decluttering Plan

There are all sorts of decluttering tips for seniors. Some suggest doing it room by room, and others object by object. It is often best to do what suits you best. 

 

Whatever your choice, come up with a schedule for when you will get it done, setting yourself targets for completion. Alternatively, you can follow a calendar challenge as your plan like this 30-day decluttering challenge.

 

30 day decluttering challenge

 

The reason why a plan works is whenever you’re doing something difficult, you need to hold yourself accountable, which is what the schedule will achieve.

 

The best way to stick to the schedule is to offer yourself rewards when your targets are met. We are wired to be more motivated when rewarded. And there is nothing like a bit of cake after some decluttering to value the effort you have put in.

 

#4 Ask for Help

Sometimes the job is just too big. Taking a life lived and sifting through it is physically and emotionally challenging. 

 

If the idea overwhelms you, encourage someone to come and help you, whether it is a family member or a friend. Or even professionals like Horderly who you can hire to help you with the process.

 

There is no shame in asking for help with decluttering of your life. We all need someone to challenge us sometimes to make hard decisions about sentimental items and deal with the amount of work to do.

 

#5 Be Practical First & Sentimental Second

When you are working through your possessions, leave those with significant sentimental value until last. Start with decluttering practical items and be ruthless in getting some momentum going. 

 

Why? Momentum is real. 

 

In fact, studies show that psychological momentum is key to successfully achieving your goals. Check out this psychological momentum (PM) model for competitive situations.

 

psychological momentum is key to successfully achieving your goals. Check out this psychological momentum (PM) model for competitive situations

 

Not that decluttering your home is a competitive situation, but the concept certainly applies to achieving your decluttering success.  

 

Plus, you might be surprised how good it feels to rid yourself of the weight of these objects. The ruthlessness then becomes addictive, making the sentimental items that much easier to pare down.

 

#6 Start in the Easiest Room

While the spare bedroom with 20 years of clutter might feel like the place to start, it will be mightily disconcerting.

 

Starting in the room with the least clutter and ticking this one off the list will promote some intrinsic motivation to continue

 

You can always work your way up to the harder rooms in the home after building momentum. For instance, the bathroom or the coat cupboard are often great places to start.

 

And then move through each area one at a time in your own time.

 

Say Goodbye to Clutter

The best decluttering happens in small steps over an extended period, complete with a plan in place. Understanding how your life has changed helps and managing that nostalgia is essential. 

 

Not only will it make your life easier, but it can also help you embrace your current ideal identity, and stay independent for as long as possible.

 

One thing is certain — it will feel so much better when it is done.

 

Happy decluttering!


Author Bio:

This article was written by Display Sense, who are a leading supplier of visual display products. From putting on an exhibition to adding items to your home, Display Sense has a wide range of products to suit your needs.

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portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach
Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion. Through her signature program Rewire My Retirement, she helps people achieve their best life across the 5 Rings of Retirement, which covers topics Growth, Community, Health, Giving Back, and Finance.


Cyn combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.

portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach

Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion (beyond the stereotypical financial planning side of retirement). 

She combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.