Whether your loved one has decided to take up residence in a senior living community or to age in place, a tidy and organized living space is imperative to one’s mental and physical health. Reasons to keep a clean home include:
Lower Stress Levels. A 2010 study indicates that people with tidy homes have lower levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, than those with messy homes. Having clutter and mess around the house can translate to mental stress, which has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Improved Safety. Falls account for the highest number of accident-related deaths in the senior population and, according to the CDC, 25% of U.S. residents over the age of 65 report falling every year. Maintaining a clutter-free living space will allow for greater mobility and reduce the risk of falling.
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Less Risk of Asthma, Allergies, and Illness. Germs, bacteria, dust, and allergens can wreak havoc on the immune system of a senior. The messier the home, the harder it is to keep clean, resulting in the accumulation of these irritants.
Here are our top five tips for keeping senior living spaces tidy and free from hazards:
- Remove Tripping Hazards. Remove area rugs and secure stray electrical cords under and behind furniture. Rearrange furniture to widen pathways for walking and keep only the essential items in each room. Also, check that all stair treads are free from loose boards and that staircases have a firmly attached handrail.
- Declutter. Flat surfaces, such as end tables, coffee tables, mantels, and bookshelves, tend to accumulate clutter quickly. If your loved one is a collector of tchotchkes, help them to choose only their favorites to keep on display and put the rest in storage. Be sure that only items that are used daily, such as remote controls, eyeglasses, and reading materials, have a place to go when not being used.
- Make Important Items Easy to Find. When cleaning and organizing, be mindful of making essential items easy to find. For example, car keys may go in a basket by the door, purses may hang on one particular hook, and shoes may live on a tray in the garage. These types of organizational habits will come in handy for a senior that may experience forgetfulness from time-to-time.
- Clean Out the Kitchen. Get rid of food in the refrigerator and cabinets that has expired and store all partially used food items in closed, airtight containers. Store hazardous items, such as cleaning products, separate from food, and make sure they are clearly labeled. Keep floors and counters free of clutter and keep knives in a knife block rather than in a drawer.
- Organize the Bathroom. The bathroom is an area of the home that can be incredibly dangerous for seniors. In addition to installing safety equipment in the bathroom, we suggest leaving a night light in the room and marking faucets hot and cold. Sort through medication, throwing out expired meds, and keeping current prescriptions labeled and easy to locate. Bathroom closets and medicine cabinets should house only the necessities.
Helping your loved one create a tidy space will give you peace of mind while keeping them happy and healthy!