Excess clutter in a home environment can be dangerous for seniors living alone. They can easily trip and seriously hurt themselves because they left a pile of magazine or a box of clothes in an unusual spot and then forgot about it. We have all heard of the show Hoarders, but the dangers of living a cluttered life start well before anything that severe. Falls are one of the leading causes of physical injury among seniors, and those who live alone suffer most because it often takes a long time for someone to find them.
Why do people hold onto so many things? Why do we fill our homes with objects that we do not use or even touch on a daily basis? Often, it is because we associate them with certain happy memories. If you look around your house, how many items can you find that you never use but you hold onto because it was a wedding gift or something you associate with a friend or loved one who is no longer with you? Now imagine how many things you will have by the time you are 60, 70, or 80. Unless you are very good managing your “stuff”, sooner or later it will overwhelm you.
So how do you help an aging parent or relative manage all of the things in their house? The best way is simply by spending more time with them. People often try to fill the void in their lives left by a lack of meaningful human contact with objects. The best way to combat that tendency is to increase human contact. Visit with your parents or aging relatives frequently, and they will have less reason to hold onto the things that are clogging up their house and posing a risk to their safety.
But sometimes increased contact isn’t enough. We all receive several pieces of junk mail on a daily basis, and we all tend to use items in our homes and forget to put them away. Unless you are able to visit the home of your parents or aging relatives regularly, they may require additional assistance. Some level of in-home care may be the answer. You can be confident that the house will be kept free of tripping hazards on a regular basis, and you can sleep soundly knowing that, even if a fall does occur due to clutter, they will never go too long without a visit from someone who can help.