Bring Order Back to Your Living Spaces

August 6, 2019

Life gets busy, making it hard to keep your living spaces in order.  Taking inventory and organizing your home can relieve stress, clear your head, and even help with your estate planning.

Brent Miller, 78, recently decluttered her apartment. After moving out of her mother’s condo, Brent’s home was full of boxes that had spent years in storage. The thought of going through everything alone felt overwhelming, at first.

“Women have mothers and grandmothers and we inherit stuff,” she says. “We don’t want to give it away or throw it out before we see it.”

Brent’s case manager at Iona helped her hire a firm that went through all of Brent’s belongings one by one and helped her select what she wanted to keep. “It made such a big difference,” Brent said. After decluttering and reducing her possessions, she plans to downsize to a smaller and more affordable apartment down the hall in her building.

Here are some tips to help you start making progress:

Declutter and downsize
  • Using the divide and conquer method, tackle just one room at a time.
  • Break large and time-consuming tasks into small bits. Doing just a little bit at a time can make decluttering seem less daunting. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.
  • Recruit help. Reach out to friends and family, and turn your declutter work into a fun and bonding experience. Professional firms, many of which specialize in working with older adults, are also available to assist.
  • Get rid of unused and unwanted items (e.g. furniture, clothes, shoes, magazines, books, tools, utensils, etc.). If you are holding on to things that you don’t need, you might be causing yourself unnecessary distress. Clearing out these items might free up space for new things, or open up the area so you can move around more. The space will feel larger and brighter.
  • Once you’ve decluttered and downsized, you’ll have a better idea of what you actually own. This can be useful if there are any items you want to include in your will or other estate planning.
Get important files and documents organized
  • Let go of old or unused files. If you aren’t sure if you’ll need a file or document at a later date, check out this useful resource from Consumer Reports.
  • Sort and organize files alphabetically by name and/or numerically by date.
  • Keep files housed in one area, not spread out across multiple places. This will diminish confusion and disorder when searching for a particular file or document.
  • Keep copies of all important documents, preferably outside of your home and with a trusted friend (to protect against a possible crisis that may cause damage to your in-home files), family member, or business professional (e.g. lawyer, advisor, caregiver, and Power of Attorney/guardian).

If reading this list causes you anxiety, you are not alone! Ione offers classes through our Take Charge/ Age Well Academy that can help you prioritize tasks, connect with others, and learn more about Iona’s services.

To learn more about our services and speak with a social worker, contact our Helpline. Iona’s Helpline is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Call (202) 895-9448 or email