Closet organization ideas: 5 closet organization tips for seniors

Bathrooms and kitchens are some of the most dangerous places for the elderly because these rooms tend to have the most slip hazards. However, knowing how to organize your closet can also prevent falls or accidents in unexpected places, too. From the bedroom to the coat closet, here are five tips from professional home organizers for creating a closet system that works for everyone.

1. Look down

On the right, the Home-Complete shoe rack in a modern home setting in front of the window.  At right, product shot of the Home-Complete Shoe Storage Shelf.
Credit: Reviewed/Home-Complete

The Home-Complete Shoe Organizer uses a minimalist design to display your shoes and sneakers.

“You need to get rid of clutter, so there’s nothing on the floor to get stuck in,” says Corliss C. Wood, a California-based professional organizer with several large clients. “And even if you don’t have anything on the floor, clutter can cause things to fall out—which can be especially dangerous when you can’t see them because the door is closed.”

She and Julie Coraccio, a professional organizer and certified life coach in West Virginia, advocate for storage solutions that make visible closet floors possible and sanitize unnecessary clothing and accessories, like an old bowling cup or duplicated clothing. “It’s important for older people to minimize their wardrobe,” says Coraccio. Do you really need 10 dresses for classes like church, daily activities, and social? ”

Eliminating the burden of “extras,” Coraccio says, especially when organizing clothes, eases the burden of extra items that need to be lifted and makes it easier to see smaller items when they’re not crammed together. Adding a simple shoe organizer can go a long way in cleaning up your floor.

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2. Watts point of view

Product shots for Lepotec and Lofter-pro motion sensor light panels.
Credit: Reviewed / Lepotec / Lofter-pro

Motion activated lights conserve energy while not in use and are a great way to catch fall hazards that may be hidden in the dark.

The organization’s experts say that improving the lighting in the cabinets is the key to safety and comfort.

Coraccio and Wood recommend motion-sensitive light strips that are easy to install and require little maintenance. Traditional lighting—with a pull chain to hold or a switch to fumble—requires more dexterity and hand strength for seniors. With a motion sensor light, simply opening the cabinet door will help light up a small space in seconds.

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3. Store binding

One of Coraccio’s favorite product lines for hanging clothes, it works well for shorter seniors or those with reach restrictions that limit flexion and stretch. The Locker Lift from Storage Action is motorized to bring two rods toward the person who opens the locker by touching a button. Clothes come from the back of the closet to the front via the ClothesCarousel collection of rotating closet rods from Storage Motion.

For those who need to store clothing items in boxes instead of on closet shelves, “sometimes more is more,” says Wood. Instead of having larger containers that are too full — and therefore too heavy to lift easily — a few smaller clear bins with easy-to-grab handles is the way to go, she says. Ideally, these should never be above shoulder height, and should be pushed back.

From clothing to photographs, Wood says she always recommends moisture-wicking beads for any items stored in plastic bins.

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4. Support system

On the left, the shoe rack seat inside the house is stocked with assorted shoes.  In the right product shot of the Simplify shoe rack seat.
Credit: Revised/simplified

Even when supported by a slip-on or Velcro-accessible shoe, seniors may still benefit from the stability of closet storage—just in case.

Seniors lucky enough to own a dresser should consider an open bench in the bottom for extra storage, and for a quick convenience “just in case,” says Coraccio. One of her favorites is from the Simplify line.

For others who need more stability or things to draw on support, Coraccio often calls for storage built into cabinets. “Plug-ins are preferable to something more modular if seniors need to anchor themselves to something stable,” she says. Contractors of the Certified Geriatrician in Place (CAPS) program receive training in home modifications for seniors.

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5. Mirror, mirror

On the left, a product shot of ULG's over-the-door display organizers.  On the right, a person inserts a bottled humidifier into the side compartment of an over-the-door regulator.
Credit: reviewed/ULG

Mesh compartments make it easy to view items stored away so they can be easily retrieved.

Seniors who need more hanging space often benefit greatly from over-the-door organizers with clear or mesh pockets, Coraccio says. It’s a small investment and only needs to fill the easy-to-reach pockets.

The vertical organizer allowed Coraccio to follow her own advice—the mirror that was once behind her closet door was replaced by a hanging jewelry cabinet. The wall-mounted cabinet doubles as a full-length mirror when closed. “It’s decorative and does double duty. If you’re short on space, this might be a good option,” she says.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

(tags to translation) Assistive technology

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