Last week I traveled across the country to Philadelphia to visit my 103-year-old grandmother. She had recently moved into a new room in her assisted-living building, and the transition had been less than smooth. It occurred while she was hospitalized, so she returned to a new, smaller room full of things that family members had unpacked.
She has always been a meticulous housekeeper, and she was very distressed not knowing where her things were. I totally understand that frustration. I hate that at-odds feeling too so much that it motivates me to keep paperwork, food items and clothes organized. I reassured my grandmother that I’d organize her room for her.
Her closet contained a mirror and picture from a previous resident, and her clothes were haphazardly hung. First I weeded out all the flimsy metal hangers from the dry cleaner and replaced most of them with sturdy plastic hangers from the nearby Dollar Tree (6 for $1, a good value). Then I grouped like items together: pants on the closet’s left side, shirts in the middle and jackets on the right. And because aides help her to dress, I labeled each section of the closet so its contents would remain organized. I gave the mirror and picture to a nurse to return to the owner’s family.
Then I did the same sort-and-group maneuver with the clothes in the armoire. I tossed unmatched socks. Underwear went into one drawer, pajamas into another. Scarves were collected and stacked on a high shelf along with pantyhose, which she rarely wears. The clothing she wears daily went into the most accessible drawers. And I labeled all the drawers.
The whole process took under two hours, and the result was an organized space with even more room than before. I know that having everything in its place gave my grandmother tremendous peace of mind, and seeing her happy made me happy too.