Posts Tagged ‘organizing’

8 Ways to Sort Aging Parents’ “Stuff”

By Paula Spencer, Caring.com

“Christmas lights. Do not work.” Three boxes, so labeled and tucked in the basement ceiling joists, were perhaps my favorite find while clearing out my parents’ house. Well, those or the shelf of neat notebooks recording weekly bowling scores back to the 1960s. A dozen casserole lids, no casseroles. Spare stereo knobs, circa 1975. Enough yarn to knit a sweater that could encase the entire house and yard, Christo-style.

I tossed plenty of useless stuff while clearing out my parents’ home of 40-odd years, recently. (100 pairs of elastic-waist pants, anyone?) But I had it relatively easy, because my parents weren’t involved. (My mom had died and my dad, who was relocating, was sidelined by dementia.)

Most caregivers face the “junk wars” with still-living relatives. It can happen when you combine households because of the recession. Or help a parent downsize into assisted living. Or just try to make a crowded old house safer for an older adult in which to age-in-place.

Sorting through the accumulated years can be exasperating. Even a nightmare, if the person is a packrat, under stress, or hopelessly sentimental. (Which doesn’t leave too many people, I know.) Here are eight great tips to get you started:

1. Start yesterday

Just about everybody who’s been through the ordeal–whether they have to “de-junk” in crisis mode or not–wishes they’d begun sooner.

Tip: Appeal to the person’s sense of not wanting to be any “trouble”: “Dad and Mom, it will be a heck of a lot more trouble for me to sort through all this after you’re gone than to sit here and help you get a handle on it now.”

2. Snap it, then dump it

Take pictures of beloved objects before disbursing them. What is really important are the memories, not the stuff. Your parent is apt to have more fun looking at albums (or downloaded images online) than dusting and digging. Likewise, you can scan old documents.

Tip: Perfect summer job for an unemployed teen.

3. Box it and “forget” it
For stuff you’re pretty sure you’re not going to want to see again–but the resistant person insists is important–try some elegant boxing. Get official, sturdy moving boxes, carefully label contents, and relocate the clutter to a basement or storage unit. Nine times out of ten, it’s never asked about or seen again. But the person feels reassured that it’s safe.

Tip: For items worth leaving out, write the significance (where it came from, family meaning, etc.) on a piece of paper stuck to its bottom. Your own children may appreciate this tiny extra step.

4. Develop some questions to sort by
The specific questions depend on the situation, but you can make a game of it. Samples: When was the last time you wore it? (More than two years and it’s out.) Does it work? (If it doesn’t function, forget it.) Is this a sentimental thing for you or a memory you want to pass on to somebody else? Is there anybody who could use this more than you right now (a young family starting out, a charity)?

Tip: Focus on potential gains (less to clean, safer floors, money, helping someone else) rather than losses.

5. Distinguish saving from collecting or hoarding
It might all look like junk to you, but understanding the person’s motivation can guide the psychology you use on them. People reared during the Depression tend to save stuff because they “might need it someday.” (That would explain my Dad’s broken Christmas lights.)

Tip: Collectors might be persuaded to cash in on their collection(s) in this economic climate. Or work with them to plan ahead to divide a collection among, say, grandchildren as Christmas gifts.

6. Cope with it as an alternative to “American Idol”

Try easing a willing parent into a downsizing spirit by suggesting you spend an evening a week, or an hour every evening, having “Sort Time.”

Tip: Start nonthreatentingly small: a corner, a box of paper paraphernalia or photos, a bookcase.

7. Enlist professional help
Especially if it’s a crisis or you’re out of town, consider finding a senior move manager. These experts know not only what to do with all that stuff but, more importantly, empathetic ways to get someone to willingly part with it.

8. Think twice about grabbing it for yourself
Your own kids will thank you someday.

via 8 Ways to Sort Aging Parents’ “Stuff” | Healthy and Green Living.

Feng Shui Organizing Tips for Fall

From an interview with Feng Shui expert Betsy Stang.

This fall Feng Shui primer will help you nurture yourself and bring more prosperity into your life while you get back to work or school. The organizing guidance is rooted in honoring the seasonal changes, clearing out the old and bringing in the new, and as such connects you more deeply to yourself and the natural world around you. Welcome in the new season and get organized, too, with these fall feng shui tips:

As the days get darker as we move away from the Summer Solstice, an underlying fent shui theme for the fall is to organize in ways that will help you be warm and cozy.

Start Nurturing Yourself More – Clear the Kitchen
* Clear the clutter from the counters.
* Separate condiments from nutritional supplements.
* Organize your grains to reduce grain moths.
* Make sure you have one nice spot to feed yourself, one nice place to nourish yourself and those in your family.
* Bring into your kitchen the last of the local produce and ingredients for healthy soups.

Warm Up Your Environment
* Bring some warm tones into the house by switching some throw pillows or throws; this will make the home feel cozier.
* Pay special attention to bringing some warm colors into your bathroom so it doesn’t feel cold in the winter (if the colors are cooler to begin with, such as blues).
* Get your heating system checked; clean the chimneys and fireplace; maintain your hearth.
* Stock up on yellow and orange vegetables for autumn food.

Make Seasonal Changes at the Main Entrance, Inside and Out
* Make sure the front door entrance is clear. This is important at times of seasonal change since we tend to keep things there that we don’t need for the coming season.

Get Ready for More Time Indoors
* Organize the area around your desk, since you will be spending more time indoors.

* If you don’t know where to put your piles, put them in baskets.
* Put your favorite books in a nice basket with a cozy throw and establish a reading nook.

Move Out the Old to Welcome the New
* Go through the medicine cabinet and throw out all the medicines that have expired.
* Donate finished summer reading to the library or hospital.
* Recycle all your old newspapers and all other recycling. (It is hard to haul a lot in the winter.)
* Go through your closets as you are switching your clothes and take the time to put clothing aside that you are no longer going to wear and give it away. Except for formal clothes, if you haven’t worn it in two years let it move out of our life.

Establish Some Seasonal Fall Habits
* Flip your mattress to eliminate a groove from sleeping in the same spot; this is better for your spine.
* Replace your emergency water supply.
* Check your pantry for emergency food supplies (and make sure you have a non-electric can opener).
* Clean out and check your car, including tire pressure (which changes at different temperatures.)
* Check your light bulbs and replace with energy efficient light bulbs so you have enough light for the winter.

via Feng Shui Organizing Tips for Fall | Healthy and Green Living.