Both of my grandmothers set a good example regarding keeping their home clean and clutter free. Not sure why because they lived two different lifestyles. One lived in the back woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the other in a small town near the capitol of Michigan. But, they both were role-models for me, especially in keeping a home they wouldn’t be ashamed of if unexpected company showed up.
Not everyone was that way. My grandma who lived near us would take me to the homes of friends or relatives on occasion and I was shocked at the magazines and newspapers stacked around, dusty furniture that looked like no one had cleaned them off in years, and so many knick knacks there was very little space for anything else.
Even their kitchen counter and table were cluttered to the point that I don’t know how they were able to fix a meal or even enjoy eating at the table. And sometimes dirty dishes would stack up to the point where it probably wasn’t healthy to even be in the same room.
I know as we age it is difficult to keep up the physical stamina we had when we were younger. We knew my grandma was going downhill when we walked into the living room and there was dust on the coffee table or end tables. She vacuumed and dusted every single morning. The appearance of dust was a red flag that she was losing ground.
I am a firm believer that if we clean the clutter from our home we will feel better about ourselves. We should have the same attitude toward our loved one. If they are unable to take care of themselves, then we should do what we can to help them out or bring in professionals to keep their home clean and clutter free.
Not only is this topic of importance for their self-esteem and health, but also to keep them safe from tripping over something that should have been taken care of. Here are some ideas that you could consider if your elderly loved one struggles with a less than desirable living space.
Go through your loved one’s home and make a list of anything that is out of place, items such as clothing or newspapers that are piling up or things that could cause harm such as tripping or losing their balance.
Start with what bothers you most and go through the items by getting rid of things they no longer need or want. The goal is to clear small areas, one at a time, until the entire room is clean. Go through each room until you have gotten rid of as much clutter as possible.
Create a cleaning and decluttering schedule for them. Bring someone in at least once a month, although weekly or every two weeks would be better. Helpers can clean each week or two and dig a little deeper while they are there until your loved one’s home is in good condition.
Rather than stacking mail and other papers all over the room, create a specific area to handle mail and pay bills. This could be a desk or a shelf with an inbox.
Be sure to place a waste basket near where you or they sort their mail so junk mail can be thrown out as you or they go through the mail. Along with the waste basket, it would also be helpful to keep a family calendar in the area. When you see paperwork that has an appointment or important date, you can write the information directly onto the calendar and toss the paper unless you need to return it.
Place a coat rack or shelf with hooks near the door your aging senior uses most often. It is important to have everyone hang jackets, sweaters or coats in the same place when they come into the home each day. By placing these items in the same place each day, your loved one will be less likely to lose them.
Finally, if your loved one is too overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in their life, ask them for permission to seek outside help. A professional organizer can recommend simple habits to keeping their life clutter free and will help them develop a routine that will work for them.
Clearing the clutter from their home will take some time and effort but the results will be well worth it. Information such as Freedom From Clutter: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Clutter Free Mind and Home can help you if you need suggestions on clearing the clutter.
Getting older is not an easy process. Fatigue, illness, or forgetfulness can cause people to drift away from long time habits. Your loved one may have been one of the best housekeepers around back in the day, but now they need help and you can provide that through your own efforts or by bringing in help so that your loved one can stay safe and live in a healthy environment.