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Cleaning Closets Can Help Seniors Manage Their Homes

Senior lady putting clothes in closet
When you place items back into the closet, try to organize your clothing in a logical way that is easy for you to find.

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Installing a hanging shoe rack, extra shelves or bars and more door hooks should be considered when you’re thinning or organizing your wardrobe, and they can help make life easier. Home Instead CAREGiversSM stand ready to help seniors manage safely in their homes by providing assistance and support.

Q. Like many 80-year-old women, I have accumulated a lifetime of “stuff,” much of which is in closets in my home. My house is getting harder for me to maintain, but I don’t want to move. Are there things I can do to make it easier to stay put?

You’re wise to think about the extra clutter in your home and realize that your life would be much simpler without it. You might want to enlist the help of family members or a trusted friend. Many of the items that you’d like to give away may be treasures that your loved ones would prefer to keep or pass on to their own family members.

When you have the right people in place, first tackle the clothes in your closet. If there are items you haven’t worn for several years, get rid of them. Make a separate pile for the clothes that you don’t want or that don’t fit anymore to donate to charity, and another for items that friends would want. Consider placing seasonal items or clothing that you don’t wear a lot but don’t want to give away in storage bags, boxes or cedar chests. Make sure whatever storage device you use is moth proof and moisture resistant.

If you don’t have a hanging shoe rack, consider purchasing one. Not only will a shoe rack help you find your footwear more quickly, it will keep you from doing any unnecessary bending to retrieve shoes from the closet floor.

Before you put any items back in your closet, think about whether that space could benefit from extra shelves or bars. If so, enlist the help of someone who can make these physical changes to your closet space. Also, consider placing hooks on closet or bedroom doors for items such as robes, belts and ties.

When you place items back into the closet, try to organize your clothing in a logical way that is easy for you to find. For example, you might want to hang items by color, or separate them by leisure and formal. Remember to use the appropriate hangars for each type of clothing. That will keep your items looking clean and pressed much longer.

If you don’t have anyone to help at home, consider hiring a companion. For instance, the local Home Instead® office can provide CAREGiversSM to help seniors in their homes with non-medical tasks such as light housekeeping. CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and they can be hired from a few hours up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Good luck with your project, and we hope you can continue to enjoy more years in your home.

For more help with those closets, view And for additional information about de-cluttering, visit

Last revised: October 11, 2011

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