While we’re all prone to holding onto possessions longer than we need to, many elderly people have clutter issues in their homes. This ranges from old books and magazines to a random assortment of items, all of which create a variety of safety risks.
From accidental falls to fire hazards, gathering clutter may seem like a harmless quirk for your loved one but it’s certainly a dangerous situation if left unchecked. Taking the time to declutter their home offers many benefits to their health, both mentally and physically, so you should have plenty of incentive to help clear things out!
Let’s take a closer look at how decluttering can help improve health and tips for getting started:
Avoiding Falls and Trips
Perhaps the most notable risk for an elderly person with clutter is the risk of tripping and falling. This can have serious health consequences for an older individual, from major injuries to even dying, so it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Clutter always creates mobility issues. Whether it’s a throw rug, stacks of magazines, or any other random object, the more clutter in each room the higher the risk of tripping and falling over.
So, start by assessing each room and tagging any notable obstacles that hinder your mobility. If something gets in your way then it’s an even bigger risk for someone less mobile. Also, take the time to check carpets and rugs for any subtler tripping hazards, while furniture may need to be rearranged too.
An often-overlooked aspect of clutter is how it may encourage unwanted pests like bugs or even rodents. When clutter is left unchecked for too long it may lead to an unhygienic environment that is bad for their health, such as an increase in dust and or mold that cause respiratory issues.
The kitchen and bathroom are two obvious places to check for signs of uncleanliness, especially in the refrigerator, although clutter may hide mold and mildew in any room. Look for obvious signs – use your nose to see where there are bad odors.
You may find it’s best to remove clutter before deep cleaning particularly unclean areas of their home. In more severe cases of clutter, you may want to pay for a professional cleaner to conduct a deep clean of carpets, surfaces, appliances etc.
Removing Fire Hazards
From blocking escapes to be a literal fire hazard, clutter in an elderly person’s house can be incredibly dangerous if a fire breaks out. A lack of space to move will limit their chances of escaping while certain types of clutter, such as old books, papers, and magazine, could cause a fire to spread at a lethal rate.
Always identify the biggest fire hazards when decluttering. Obstacles at doorways and hallways are obvious ones but be sure to check for older or overloaded electrics that could possibly start a fire in the first place.
Flammable objects should always be removed, particularly when there are stacks of papers, books, magazines etc.
Getting Better Sleep
While they may not let it show, clutter generally increases stress and anxiety in people. So, by decluttering you can reduce stress for your loved one, which has a variety of knock-on benefits, most notable better sleep.
If your loved one has a lot of clutter in their bedroom, make sure to remove as much as possible, as this is good for their mental and physical health. It’ll be cleaner but also much more open, reducing stress and helping them enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Complete a Safety Check
Clutter often causes safety checks to fall on the wayside. For instance, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors may have dead batteries, older electronics and appliances may be dangerous, while medications may have expired. Go from room to room and see what safety risks are present and addressing them as you declutter.