Is It Time To Help Your Senior Loved One De-clutter?
August 21, 2018
The first week of August in 2018 is National Simplify Your Life Week, and your private duty care professionals in Lake Stevens and elsewhere would like to take this opportunity to ask the adult children of seniors - Is it time to help your senior loved one de-clutter? Clutter, of course, can mean more than the myriad objects which might accumulate in a household over time, although physical clutter is certainly an issue worth looking into.
Clutter can also mean emotional baggage however, and if there are nagging emotional issues tugging at your senior parent, this week would be a good time to try and talk through some of those issues, so they don't acquire the status of perpetual emotional baggage. Here are some other thoughts about helping your elderly loved ones de-clutter their lives.
Spring cleaning - in summer
Everyone is familiar with the idea of spring cleaning, i.e. that after a long winter season, things have accumulated which aren't really necessary for the coming change in seasons and the different lifestyle that will be adopted in accordance with that seasonal difference. Simplify Your Life Week is very similar to that concept, except for two things, the first being that it takes place in the dead of summer. The other difference is one of scope, because spring cleaning generally does refer to physical tidying up and organizing, and is limited to that physical aspect of de-cluttering.
By contrast, this first week in August is meant to encompass both physical and psychological clutter, and your senior loved one could probably use some help with both. There are several aspects to this, including the obvious one concerning emotional relationships, but this is an area where you really have to tread lightly and avoid doing anything hasty which might cause distress instead of relief. If there are ways you can help repair relations with friends and relatives, it should be discussed with your parent before any action is attempted. Then too, so-called friends can sometimes be more of an emotional drag than a benefit to your parent, and then it might be time to consider seeing less of those particular persons.
De-cluttering household routines
Another aspect of 'summer cleaning' is simplifying tasks, and reducing the energy your loved one must expend on his/her daily routine. Ways that this might be addressed are in making household chores easier to do, perhaps by purchasing an inexpensive vacuum, installing a dishwasher, or perhaps putting grab bars around the house for easier navigation. You might even want to undertake a project to move your loved one's bedroom from the upstairs to a downstairs room, to avoid stair-climbing as much as possible.
The household routine that your elderly loved one must adhere to is probably an area which could stand some consolidation and simplification as well, so here's a little exercise to see how efficiencies might be gained. Get pen and paper, and jot down all the daily household chores and tasks which your parent has to do. Then take a closer look at them, and see how they might be grouped, in order to save time and energy by making fewer trips back and forth through the house, or by making fewer trips outside. From this, daily or weekly schedules can be devised which are bound to save on energy, and which may even impart a sense of calm and order to the home, and to your elderly parent.
De-cluttering social schedules
What kind of social schedule does your elderly loved one keep? While most seniors living at home probably are not over-extended on social commitments, there are undoubtedly some who might benefit by having a simpler schedule, with slightly fewer classes, visits, club meetings, and social gatherings. Being social is definitely a good thing for seniors because it keeps them active and engaged with others, but if that society gets pushed too far and includes too many contacts, it can work just the opposite, and become a drag on a senior's energies. If your parent is one of these over-booked social butterflies, it might be a good thing to simplify and leave a little more whitespace on the social calendar.
De-clutter the clutter
Finally, we get to the 'stuff' which lays around a home, taking up space and getting in the way of easy navigation around the home. How do you know what is true clutter, and which items should be retained for future years? There is a popular book named 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up', which suggests a guideline that is both practical and simple. All those items which, when you pick them up and hold them, fill you with the joy of a pleasant memory or the warmth of a deeply felt experience, should be held onto for life. Everything else is fair game for being discarded. It may sound a bit cold and stark, but on the other hand - if all those baubles and knick-knacks don't really mean anything to you - why keep them? Simplify your life this week, and feel the freedom that it brings to you.