The Importance of Keeping a Senior OrganizedJuly 26, 2022
It’s all too easy to accumulate clutter. Even over the course of the week, we compile mail, little trinkets, and receipts that end up shoved in a drawer or a basket. Those weeks accumulate, and we end up with a pile of litter that serves no use other than to take up space.
As one ages, keeping organized becomes equally more important and more difficult to do. Weeks of clutter can turn into years. Attempting to manage that when one’s physical and mental health is on the decline becomes an overwhelming task. This can cause them to lose important documents and even harm themselves due to tripping hazards.
The importance of keeping a senior organized is about more than finding what one needs (though that is, of course, a major part of it). Clearing away clutter and putting everything in its place has been shown to boost mental clarity and lower stress. It also lowers their risk of injury and increases their independence, as it clears walkways and empowers them to find what they need.
Older adults may want to get organized, but might not be sure how to get started. Help your loved one get in control of their life again by helping keep them organized.
Take it one step at a time
When helping your elderly loved one declutter, tackle the home one room at a time, as you don’t want to exhaust or overwhelm them. Start simply to encourage a sense of accomplishment in your senior loved one. Common areas with heavy clutter include the kitchen and bathroom, but you will also find issues due to unreachable items on shelves or overstocked bookcases.
Once you’ve established a plan of action, it’s time to get started.
Clear clutter in an organized fashion
A few years ago, Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her KonMari Method of organization. If you haven’t heard her name, you’ve probably heard the main principle behind her method—keeping items that “speak to the heart” and discarding items that “no longer spark joy.”
Remind your elderly loved one of this as you start to clear away clutter. Then, start four different piles as a framework for your cleaning: keep, give away (to family or friends), donate, and throw out. Do this for each area of the home.
Make stored items easy to access
Now that you know what it is your elderly loved one is keeping, put it all away in a structured format. Make sure everything has a clearly defined space. For instance, in the bathroom medicine cabinet, have a small basket for all their medications. In the kitchen, have all pots and pans in a certain cabinet. Store all coats in the same coat closet.
Ensure everything is in an easily accessible place. Your elderly loved one should not have to crouch too low or jump to reach anything. A good rule of thumb is to not store anything that will be frequently used lower than the upper thigh. If you have a label-maker you can clearly mark where everything goes, allowing your loved one to easily keep up with the organization system.
Have a safe space for important documents
Important documents like one’s birth certificate, passport, social security card, and will should all be organized in an easy-to-find, secure location. Ask your loved one where they prefer these documents. Some may prefer them locked away in a bedroom closet, while others might want them in a home office.
Purchase a small filing cabinet for better organization. If it has a lock, it’s even better. File all these documents using marked folders.
Develop a system for medication management
Some seniors have to take several different medications to manage whatever conditions they have. It can be confusing to know what needs to be taken at certain times of the day, and how many times it needs to be taken. Help your loved one set up a system of medication management. This way, you know they’re taking what they need to take when it needs to be taken.
One option is to utilize a weekly, or even monthly, pill box organized by night and day. Another option is to have a medication log posted nearby where they keep their medication. It should list what they need to take, and when. Have them mark what has already been taken right when they take it, so if they forget, there is a clear reminder.
Create a schedule
Between doctor appointments, bill payments, and any other recreational commitments, keeping track of the day-to-day can be difficult for some seniors. Help keep their home lives organized by creating a schedule for them. Sit down with your loved one, figure out any upcoming and reoccurring commitments, and write them down.
Some seniors might prefer having a physical calendar for them to walk by and check. Others might enjoy having the reminder pop up on their cell phone. Decide what would work best for your loved one and set it up for them.
Hire an in-home caregiver to help
Even if you take the time to create schedules and systems, your elderly loved one might still fall behind. An in-home caregiver understands the importance of keeping a senior organized and can help your loved one stay organized. They can maintain the systems you set in place when you can’t be there.
In-home caregivers can assist your loved one with more than their organization needs. Whether your loved one requires assistance with personal care, light housekeeping, laundry, errands, or meal preparation, the staff with Home Care Powered by AUAF can help. Find out how an in-home care worker can improve your loved one’s quality of life by calling 773-274-9262.
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