As you age, you will likely find yourself wondering what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. So, what do you do?
NextAvenue.org offers a four-box inventory system that can help you to sort and prioritize the importance of belongings. In this system, you put four boxes in each room, with the four boxes representing the following:
- Keep Until I Die: this represents items with sentimental value, which could range from photo albums and personal letters to wedding china
- Appraise and Sell: this represents belongings you know have value, but ones you don’t want anymore
- Keep with Me: this represents items you need but aren’t necessarily sentimental, such as your furniture and your everyday dishes
- Garage Sale/Donate: this represents items you don’t want that don’t have significant value
In many cases, you can’t literally put the items in a box and/or you are using them and don’t want to box them up. But you can list them on index cards with photos accompanying them, and keep those index cards in the appropriate boxes. In the NextAvenue.org article, a grown daughter went through this process with her mother, and it gave the mother a chance to share family stories related to the items, many the daughter hadn’t heard before.
GoodHousekeeping.com, meanwhile, shares organizing tips and storage solutions to take advantage of space in a way that keeps your belongings neat and your home organized. These range from the more labor intensive (such as adding racks to your garage roof for extra storage space) to ways you can double up on hangers to fit more clothes into your closet, store spices in Tic Tac Boxes, block clutter with something pretty and more. You can find 102 tips in this article, making it likely that many will work for you.
RealSimple.com divides its 31 organizing tips and storage solutions into these categories: Get Organized, Reuse and Repurpose, Straighten Closets, Clean Up Closets, Stow Stuff Away, Corral Clothes, Make Things Tidy, Hang and Stash, De-Clutter the Bathroom and Plan Ahead. Different experts chime in and you can focus on the tip categories that fit your needs to keep your home organized. They range from an inexpensive solution to organizing your junk drawer to ways to reuse pretty ribbon to keep matching pillowcases together and more.
Organizing Tips for Older Adults: Generational Differences
“This is the first time we’re seeing a kink in the chain of passing down mementos from one generation to another.” (Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, New York Times)
You may look back at when your own parents needed to get rid of belongings, and your memory tells you it wasn’t this difficult. And, you’re probably right. According to an article in Forbes.com, younger couples starting out today simply don’t want the same things previous generations did. They often live more minimally, without the emotional connection to belongings experienced by previous generations. Plus, because people are living longer, there are often two generations in a family that are both trying to downsize belongings.
The article also shares numerous ways to sell or otherwise handle unwanted belongings, and provides a link to the Guide to Rightsizing and Relocation by the National Association of Senior Move Managers that will likely provide useful organizing tips for your situation, even if you are staying in the same home.