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Clutter Control Can Pose Challenges at Home

CAREGiver helping an elderly woman organize her garage.
Too much clutter is a safety risk such as slipping on loose papers, threat of fire or the health effects of mold and mildew.

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Some seniors could unwittingly create safety risks in their abodes that include the risk of slipping on loose papers, the threat of fire or the health hazards of mold and mildew. If your senior needs help to keep the house tidy, consider support.

Q. My arthritis is worsening, and I am having more trouble keeping newspapers and magazines from piling up in my house. In addition, it’s difficult parting with things that have meant so much to me through the years. Is this a common problem?

Yes it is, but there are solutions. While clutter is not a problem unique to seniors, conditions of aging including arthritis can lead to disorder and chaos. Now is a great time to focus on cleaning up your home.

After all, too much clutter is a safety risk such as slipping on loose papers, threat of fire or the health effects of mold and mildew. You also might feel uncomfortable with entertaining guests because of the clutter.

We suggest a three-step plan using three bins — one for the stuff you want to keep, one for donations and the other for trash. If you need a little help, why not enlist the assistance of a family member such as a daughter or granddaughter. It could be fun activity and an event that will help you share memories with your loved ones. Here are some other ideas:

  • Save only a piece of a dress to make a quilt or display in a shadow box. Scrapbooking and converting photos to DVDs are other ways to save treasured keepsakes without all the extra mess.
  • Give unused gifts back to the giver or grandchildren.
  • Buy a shredder to help you dispose of those unwanted papers. Recycle newspapers and magazines.
  • If your family doesn’t want old photos, give them to a museum, historical society, theater, library, church or synagogue.

Maybe what you really need is companionship. Make sure your stuff isn’t taking the place of people. Loneliness may also lead to depression, which also makes it difficult for seniors to get organized.

Consider the services of a professional organizer as well as a caregiver. CAREGiversSM from the locally owned Home Instead® network would be happy to help you manage your home and keep you company at the same time.

Last revised: December 28, 2011

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