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I am a senior with emphysema on oxygen, and need help decluttering my home.

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If you need stuff hauled to the dump, Google "junk haulers" and a list will pop up plus a list of people who do this work locally.

I have used these groups many a times for my parent's stuff and will need them for some of my own stuff before too long. The cost base on how much space is used in their truck, they will walk you through the cost. Anywhere from $150 to $300 depending how much stuff.

I was impressed at how well these young fellows worked so well with each other. I remember moving things from my Dad independent living facility and the nosy busy bodies were asking these fellows 101 questions, and the fellows were very polite and took it in stride.
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In my area, there are several charities that will come by and pick up items for you. Since they come on a certain day (one came today for a pickup), it puts needed and helpful pressure on me to get things together and put them on the porch for them to take away.

Decluttering my grandparents' home that they lived in since the 1950s has been years of small efforts. I remind myself of the saying -- "How do you eat an elephant?"

One bite at a time. :-)

There are tips online that help the mental process become clearer as to what to dispose of, there are dumpsters that can be rented and hauled away, there are people who will help with physical labor for not much money.

Cwillie, for years I've been annoyed by the cabinet-style hi fi (that doesn't even work) in the living room here, wanting to get it out to the curb for trash. No one wants it. I'll have to pay to move it out, so easier to just let it sit there.
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I have been decluttering fairly succesfully. I have found that I don't need items to help me remember people and events. They are fixed in my memory.

I started with dealing with things from my mother. It is easier with some one else's things, I think. I was pretty ruthless as I know my kids aren't interested in much if anything. I reasoned that either I kept it (for what?) or I tossed it now to spare myself storing it longer. The latter was more appealing. I have donated some of her things to a Norwegian Heritage society. I am in the same frame of mind with my things and have gotten rid of all the silver I had and fine china except for a very few pieces. Honestly it feels good. I still have a lot to go through, and will take photos of anything I feel I need to as a keep sake. After all it is only stuff.

I am not great at dealing with paper but do toss junk mail right away. I ask any business to use email when possible. I manage that better than paper.

There are some organizations that will pick up large donated stuff. I used one when I emptied mother's apartment when she first moved.

BBosnick - would a church, or a seniors organization be able to help you.?
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I just had this done, I found the company by doing a "google" search for decluttering. I was surprised by how many choices I had. Key questions should be asked, like do they hall everything away, do they donate to charities. Make a list of questions before you contact anyone.
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Oh, regrets. I still feel a twinge when I remember tossing my brother's well worn teddy and the rest of our much loved stuffed friends into the fire. My teddy, hand made by my grandmother, still dwells in a bottom dresser drawer.
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P.S. There's another room that I plan to tackle next year, and I know of several things I just can't part with: my mother's special Christmas china and accessories, and my old tap and ballet shoes from lessons taken when I was just a child.

Whenever I think of my childhood dance lessons, I'm immediately transported back to the magnificent old Victorian where dance lessons were held. I remember the bay windowed rooms that were changing rooms, I remember the magical transformation as we slipped on our tap shoes or ballet shoes and dreamed of becoming prima ballerinas or famous tap dancers.

There was also a red gabardine skating skirt that I made, with box pleats. I may even have designed it myself. I remember the sounds of music as we skated round and round in the roller rink.

Those memories and those items I can't part with. If I find them, they'll stay with me until the day I die.
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Some thoughts based on a recent experience:

1. Professional companies that do fire and water restoration and remediation will do this, and they have the heavy duty equipment of air scrubbers, contacts to hire dumpsters at the best rates, various levels of haz-mat suits, and disinfectants. They're used to challenging situations.

2. The one I hired was fast, reliable, and very flexible.

3. The drawback is that this is an overwhelmingly emotional project. Discarding "stuff" like magazines, books, etc. isn't that difficult if you've already read them, but there's a world of memories attached to other things.

As I saw the magazines go out, I thought of my own house and my massive collection of quilting, crafting, gardening, herbal, woodworking and business magazines. Before I fell into caregiving, I had planned to spend my retirement years going through those magazines, finding projects to make and sell, and developing a home based quilting and woodworking business.

How could I possibly part with all those magazines with all those ideas?

4. I was prepared to let a lot of things go but when we got to the old family records, I had visions of sitting in the living room with my parents and siblings, listen to very specific music. It was how I learned to love classical music. Those flashbacks were totally unexpected, and they weren't the first.

By the end of the day, I could not think clearly. I just felt totally overwhelmed. The contractor agreed that these are emotionally challenging situations, and they don't even apply to hoarding situations; they apply to situations in which we're going through things we've accumulated as adults, as children, and as family members. And we're trying to decide that they need to go as part of the decluttering, while we recognize that we still have emotional attachments and memories for much of those items.

5. Although I have high confidence in my contractor, I don't have confidence in myself to go through this again, so rapidly, making decisions on the fly. And I wouldn't recommend that others do it.

It wasn't more than a day or so before I began having doubts - should I really have allowed some items to be discarded? Was it worth it to save them, clean them up, and either use them or donate them? And countering that, did I really want to spend my retirement years doing that?

6. The contractor also commented on so many items in the house, things collected from after WWII, things that our parents used and saved, and bring back so many memories of tougher times.

His memories were comforting, but I also then began to wonder if I should be just throwing this stuff out.

6. To this day, I still have some regrets and wish I'd spent more time going through everything that would discarded, and if I can't remember seeing something I was sure was there, and had value, I become more unsettled.

7. Going forward, I now work on a few areas at a time; whole rooms will get done piecemeal; no more stripping down top to bottom. I start with the usual load of junk mail Dad receives, like Jeanne and probably others, saving photos from catalogues because I still plan to build garden structures and wooden treasures, and of course still get out my serger and sewing machine to make clothes for my old age.

8. Sometimes I do this while watching one of my favorite programs, or wildlife programs, remembering that hundreds of years ago we survived as people w/o all the stuff we have today.

Sometimes I listen to music to calm me as I'm mulling over the challenging question of whether or not to save a photo of an item that I want to make but know that I'll probably never wear business clothes again.

9. As to large items as CWillie addresses, I too faced that obstacle, and still do. I did find a junk hauler to take away large stuff. But I need to first clean up the area before the junk hauler sees all that stuff!

When I cleaned out my sister's house, there were a lot of good things to donate. Salvation Army wouldn't allow people to come into the house, but I did find a veterans' organization that did. An Army, Navy and few Marines showed up and hauled away the stuff quicker than I could figure out to even move it.

This group has a facility for homeless Vets as well as a thrift shop. The dresser, couches, office chairs and all the workout equipment went with them.

Calling 211 United Way (in the States; I'm not sure about Canada) might be a way to find a group that will come in and take the heavy stuff.
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It turns out I do have some ideas about decluttering. I was nodding reading these posts. I know how to do it. I just don't do it! Anyone have suggestions for that?

Most of my clutter is paper, so in addition to the bags/boxes freqflyer lists I need bags for "shred," "recycle," "handle," and "file."

I like your small goals, Rainmom. With paper if I threw out 5 pieces a day I'd fall behind -- more than 5 new pieces come in each day. :( But the principle is sound. I find that I am easily overwhelmed these days, and a big goal would just depress me. Even "declutter the bedroom" is too much. I've divided the bedroom into 6 zones. Declutter the area around the recliner sounds much less daunting. And I'm on zone 3 now, so it is working at least a little.

cwillie, I feel for ya! I have some big items too, and I'm so glad to have strong young men who can and will help. I don't know what I'd do in your situation.

My best friend's mother was a hoarder, a knowledgeable antiques collector, and also collected vintage clothing. She had a three-story house stuffed to rafters. It took her kids several months to clean that out to sell the house. They could hardly ever throw a box of stuff out. They had to look through the box to see if there were any 19th century valentines hidden among the junk. And a cupboard full of mismatched and chipped dinnerware might also contain pristine depression-era glasses. In a way, my paper mess is similar. Among the old campaign ads and unopened apparent junk mail may be a document needed for taxes, or the only copy I have of my cousin's address.

Sigh. But my biggest obstacle is just getting started.
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OK you guys, the little things in cupboards may be mentally difficult but not too physically taxing, but what about the big things?
I'm having difficulty myself with large items I want to toss or donate: I don't have a large vehicle to carry things away to the landfill and the municipality does not pick up large items curbside, the local donation shop won't carry large items up from the basement and I have no strong men who will come to help. And if I try to sell the items it would mean letting strangers into my home to remove the stuff, no thanks. So it seems my options are to pay big $$ to get rid of it all or just putting up with it.
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When I'm in de-clutter mode but don't have a lot of time or energy I set small goals - such as - everyday for two weeks I have to find five things to throw in the garbage. Big or small - it all counts.
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BBosnick, get three boxes or three large paper grocery bags that can stand on their own. On one bag write "Toss Out", on another bag write "Donate", on the third box " ? " because you aren't sure whether to keep or not.

Start with the linen closet... that is usually the most interesting if you store a lot of different things in there, such as medicines and over-the-counter supplies. Go through the medicines and over-the-counter items and check the expiration dates. If item is past the date, toss out.

Now check the towels, any that are torn and very worn, toss out. I found I had way too many kitchen towels, especially Christmas ones, so those I donated.

Once the linen closet is done, pat yourself on your back and let out a big sigh... it's done. Next week pick a closet, or the kitchen panty, etc.

It is hard to have someone come in to help de-clutter unless you have stuff from the floor to the ceiling. It is very difficult for another person to know what you would like to keep or not. I remember when my sig other wanted to help me clear out my parents house, it took too much of my time as every minute he was asking if I wanted to keep this or that.
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Call your nearest senior center, they will have places they can refer you to. No, it won't be free, but you ask for an estimate before they start work.
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I'm a senior with no impairment to excuse me, and I need help decluttering my home.

I'll be watching for answer here too!
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