copyright Suzy Right llc 2013
There comes a time in everyone’s life when we all need a little help. This blog is dedicated to the care of elders, so the best place to start is by taking a good look at your loved one’s space. Is it easy to navigate? Clutter-free? Safe? Can you find things easily? Not only must your elder navigate the space– but, in the event that she needs in-home care, can others navigate it safely, too? Especially at night? As children, we’re taught to “pick up your room,” for good cause: to keep the space neat, clean and safe. Ditto at any age, but especially when we slow down and our vision isn’t what it used to be. The less stuff we have under foot, the safer we are. The author has 20 years experience in the elder-care business, and has written several ebooks about elder care and organization. The more we know before we tackle a task, the more effective our solutions. The purpose of Suzy’s writings is to help people. And the more info the public has at its fingertips, the better for us all!
America’s population is aging. If this had been the case generations ago, it wouldn’t have been a big deal– three-generation families were common, so naturally, everyone cared for each other. Now, however, the landscape has changed and the generations live very separate lives, but for ‘sandwich’ geners who care for their elders as well as the grandchildren. And who helps out? Anyone they can trust to the job. The field of elder-care is booming. So how does this relate to why you want to de-clutter grandma’s house? To be prepared before more hands come onboard.
In our own family, we’ve moved many times, necessitating us to de-clutter our stuff regularly. We de-clutter each time we bring home something new by donating something else. ‘One for one.’ Otherwise our domicile would resemble an antique shop– but we’re not in the business! Ultimately, too much stuff is a burden. But for someone who has spent decades in the same spot, the same house, while the children and grandchildren grow up then leave to live their own lives, the idea of “de-cluttering” can be overwhelming, even painful. The term, ‘de-cluttering,’ implies that treasures are mere clutter. Cast-offs or trash. But that is not what I’m saying. These things are treasures to someone: memories, belongings. But when too much of even the best of everything impedes us from living safely, these treasures become a burden. Then it is time to lighten the load.
I had the pleasure of caring for a wonderful woman who grew up dirt poor. She married, lived modestly with her husband as they raised their boys, then was widowed and grew old in the same house, for some sixty years. After months of home care, it was time for this lovely great-great-grandmother to reside in assisted living. Her family asked me to help– so I quietly packed a few boxes of her precious things, and handed them off to the family. A few days later, we all drove to the new place. Her things were already on the shelves, so she felt at home and it was a peaceful transition. **
Every family must plan ahead for the day when their beloved needs a helping hand. That could mean a ‘visiting angel’ for a few hours, or 24-hour care by someone like me, or other choices. But in any case, start with de-cluttering grandmother’s house. Clear all pathways for foot traffic, especially in case of an emergency. Are doorways and windows accessible? Do stacks of stuff pose fire hazard– or risk of falling? Do solar nightlights illumine adequately? Where are the telephones? And wires? Are safety bars installed in wall studs? Towel racks, for example, don’t support weight during a fall: they yank easily from the wall, compounding risk of injury. Using towel racks for safety bars is what I call, false security: it’s worse than having nothing there at all. ***
The safety reasons to de-clutter a house are as diverse as each situation. Start by taking a walk-through your loved one’s space and imagine moving unsteadily, slowly– and not seeing very clearly. What “tools” would enable safe-keeping? The risk of seniors injured in a fall is very high– and costly. In all ways. Don’t go down that path. Instead, employ the art of de-cluttering as a front line tool to keep your elder safe in his or her own home. De-cluttering simplifies life, making it easier and safer: de-cluttering is peace of mind. –Blessed day, one and all! And thanks for reading!
** Check out Suzy Right’s books about, “How To De-Clutter Your House In 30 Minutes A Day,” plus her Elder Care experiences at smashwords.com and wherever fine ebooks are sold. Thank you!
*** Read, “Dear Jan- Elder Care,” by Suzy Right, for more discussion on safety “tools” for seniors.
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Copyright Suzy Right llc 2013