A collection of untidy items lying around the house not only creates chaos for seniors, but too much clutter can become a safety hazard. Clutter can lead to misplaced or unpaid bills, forgotten medications, and increase the risk of falls. Minimizing belongings might be a hard adjustment for some seniors, but it can prevent future accidents in the long run.
Home care is a great way to help seniors stay on top of daily matters. Let’s review some steps you can take today to help your loved one simplify their life.
5 Ways for Seniors to Simplify
Initially, your loved one might be opposed to the thought of minimizing or decluttering. Remember to be kind and patient in the process. Approach the subject objectively and state your concerns about the health hazards the full house poses to their everyday life. Once they agree, take it slow and start with small steps.
1. Go Paperless
Everyone’s house tends to have a collective place where mail accumulates; on the kitchen counter, desk, coffee table. Seniors increase the chance of bills going unpaid, and utilities run the risk of being turned off when clutter rules the house.
Reduce the amount of mail by signing up seniors for online billing. Work with seniors directly or the person who manages their finances to set up autopay. Not only does electronic bill pay reduce paper clutter, but it guarantees bills are paid on time. Memory care, provided by a professional caregiver, is also a helpful resource as seniors age and become more forgetful.
2. Organize Medications
Regularly organizing medications can become a struggle for seniors—too many bottles, varying doses, specific directions, etc. All of the medication seniors are prescribed can be difficult for them to remember to take on their own. Both overdosing and under-dosing can be fatal and result from poor medication management. Caregivers need to be cognizant of the medication doses and common drug interactions between prescriptions to serve seniors well.
Review your loved one’s medications often as well as update their list of active physicians. Sort through all of the medicines being stored in your loved one’s home and properly dispose of all expired prescriptions. Set up a weekly pillbox to help seniors organize their daily doses and remind them of what they have already taken.
3. Reveal the Root Issue
Some people tend to hold on to things longer and more frequently than others. Seniors typically have a higher risk of being hoarders, which can be onset by several behaviors, including OCD, depression, and loneliness. According to Dozier and Ayers’ (2014) article, Hoarding in Late Life, “Older adults with HD [Hoarding Disorder] are at increased risk for falling, fires and mold in the home, poor hygiene and nutrition, and medical problems.”
The decluttering process can be overwhelming for seniors and change is never comfortable. Be sure to move at a slow pace and work closely with seniors throughout the whole process. Schedule a few days, depending on the amount of clutter, to clean up the house. Emotionally support seniors as they learn to let things go while also being aware of the sentimental value certain items may carry.
4. Ask for Help
If there is too much clutter, and you are not sure where to start, it might be helpful to consult a professional organizer. A psychologist or counselor may also be a valuable, professional resource if the situation deems necessary. Use the contacts around you by asking family and friends if they have any preferable recommendations or referrals.
Always talk with your loved one about how they feel about getting professional help with the project. Stay empathetic and understanding about how difficult change can be. Reassure loved ones that you have their best interest in mind and will walk with them throughout each phase of the simplification process.
Many seniors simply have too much space to work with. Living alone in a multi-level, single-family home can require significant upkeep. Walking up and down the stairs causes fall hazards, tending the landscape on hot days quickly leads to dehydration, and the overall size of the house is daunting to clean and manage alone.
Explore the possibility of finding a condo, townhome, or, if appropriate, a senior living community. Start a conversation about your loved one’s feelings around the idea of moving, but approach the subject gently. Again, change can be complicated and create dissension if not addressed appropriately. Do not pressure seniors into selling their home. Genuinely express your concerns and suggestions to increase their quality of life.
How Can Senior Home Care Help?
Aging in place is the preference of most seniors, but the desire to stay put does not come without challenges. A professional, trained caregiver can help seniors live in a safer home environment and even provide Alzheimer’s care to mediate the health hazards caused by forgetfulness.
Senior care support can aid in services such as light housekeeping, bill pay, pet care, medication management, and companionship. For more information on how Commonwise Home Care can help simplify senior living, call 434.202.8565.
Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.