Deciding When to Help Your Parents Declutter

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Caring for your family can bring joy to your life. If you are caring for your parents and children, this can become complex. As your parents age, their needs and abilities change. If you’ve started to consider the next best move for Mom, Dad or another senior loved one, we have guidance on trigger moments that signify it may be time to talk about a plan.

Here’s a list of significant changes that could indicate your parents may currently or soon need additional support such as home care, decluttering help, financial advising, or assisted living: 

  • Difficulty keeping up with finances. Observe stacks of unpaid bills or late notices.
  • Changes in personal hygiene or housekeeping that indicate parents are having trouble with personal grooming or housework.
  • Your parent repeats themselves often in the same conversation, seems confused, highly emotional or exhibits unusual paranoia. This could be caused by medications or other more serious cognitive issues.
  • Excessive shopping through TV or online outlets, or an unusual interest in online sweepstakes that require their personal information, phone numbers, addresses, social security or banking information.
  • Your parent is extremely isolated due to loss of a spouse or loss of personal mobility.
  • Numerous safety concerns in the home, such as heat, air conditioning, leaks, crumbling plaster, trip and fall hazards, steep stairways, loose carpeting and outdated electrical.
  • Health concerns: disorganized medications, spoiled food in the home, lack of healthy food items, infestations or mold
  • Recent diagnosis of a chronic health condition that requires a variety of care services provided by multiple practitioners.



If you noticed any of the trigger moment changes above, it may be time for your loved one to consider rightsizing or a move that benefits their health condition. Here are 5 tips to help you prepare them to “Rightsize” for whatever comes next.

Help your loved one get rid of items that belong to other people. Quite often, the first place you can begin to clear is where other people’s items gather. Have they held on to your childhood furniture and keepsakes or stored items for family and friends? If your answer is yes, start clearing those items. Contact family members and friends to find out if they want their items back or no longer have use for them.

Dispose of broken and outdated items. In most cases, broken items are no longer useful or functional, but a hazard. Items like chipped or broken decorative items can be especially harmful depending on the material the item is made of, the paint used to decorate it, or if the item has sharp or jagged edges. Be sure to discard these items to clear room as well as for safety. Also consider discarding well worn, old, holey, or torn clothing, bed linens, and towels as well as chipped or broken dinnerware.

Start the process by identifying items your loved one absolutely loves and needs. After deciding what items are needed to live safely and comfortably, such as a bed, place for clothes or eating utensils, you can then consider which items they love most that are not essential to daily life or comfort.

Be patient and prioritize the well-being of everyone involved. In a world driven by immediacy, we often want instant results. Remember that Rightsizing is a process that works best with a plan and lots of patience. This is a conscious decision to set the next phase of your life for comfort and healthy living. If the process exceeds what your family can do comfortable, consider hiring experts like Caring Transitions.

For every milestone in our lives, we use space differently. Quite often, embarking on new territory can be both exciting, and in some cases frightening. Having open and honest conversations with your loved ones about the next steps in their life can ease some of the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding this topic.

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