The importance of decluttering and organizing your home as a senior

Updated 6/5/2019 7:40 AM

As you get older, you might find you're collecting more and more items. From old books to CD collections, many of your belongings may be hard to let go of because of their sentimental value.

If you're not diligent in clearing your home of unnecessary items, they begin to pile up and before you know it, your house is cluttered and disorganized. A disorganized home can affect both your health and the value of your house.


How clutter affects your health

A disorganized, cluttered home can lead to a variety of negative health effects. Studies show that extreme clutter can lead to a decrease in satisfaction with life among older adults; increased unhealthy habits like eating junk food, oversleeping or binge-watching TV; and more serious health issues like elevated cortisol, which can lead to heart disease.

Jennifer Prell, president of Elderwerks Educational Services, is an expert in senior housing in Illinois and gives more than 50 presentations a year. In them, she stresses the importance of older adults decluttering their home and knowing their housing options as they age.

"Many seniors we work with don't often think clutter has a direct impact on their health," Prell said. "You have to be proactive about keeping your home organized and clean on a regular basis so it doesn't get out of control."

Prell tells older adults that by organizing or downsizing their home, they're not only doing their health a favor, but also preserving their home's value.

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How clutter affects your home's health

Your house is likely your largest and most expensive asset. Much like you'd take your car for a car wash or to get tuned up, you should do the same for your home to keep it in good shape. If you neglect your home, you could be at risk of:

Mold growth

Plumbing damage

Structural issues

Fall hazards

Mice, rats or insects invading your home

Issues like these can worsen over time and affect your home's value. It is far easier to prevent these problems than it is to stop them once they've begun.

Prell encourages her speaking event attendees to proactively prepare for the "what ifs" in life. For seniors, these "what ifs" could be daily upkeep becoming too difficult, their home becoming too challenging to live in or deciding they are ready to move sooner than they thought.

If you or a loved one needs assistance with organizing or decluttering a home, you don't need to worry about doing it all at once. Prell advises people to start with getting rid of the least emotional items they can in areas like the garage, dining room or living room.

If you want more tips on how to clean and organize your home, you're in luck. Listen to Prell and other speakers during the Mainstreet Senior Expo & Education free upcoming events in June, July and August around Chicagoland to discover more strategies for decluttering your home. Other presentations during the Expo will cover knowing which senior housing options are best for you, understanding property taxes and getting tips for avoiding scams.

Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® (MORe) is dedicated to anticipating and serving the needs of more than 18,000 REALTORS®, affiliates and licensed appraisers in South, West and Northwest Suburban Chicagoland. MORe is the largest local REALTOR® member organization in Illinois and the sixth largest in the nation. To learn what a REALTOR® can do for you, visit Mainstreet.REALTOR.

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