Massafra, co-owner of the Home Instead Senior Care franchise that serves seniors and their families in 33 towns throughout northern Fairfield, southern Litchfield and northwest New Haven Counties, elaborated that, “A lifetime accumulation of possessions, combined with an influx of daily junk mail, bills, newspapers and magazines, can very quickly overwhelm seniors who are struggling physically, mentally or emotionally. It is important to take these out of the seniors’ home because accumulation of these inflammable materials can pose a serious problem. Homes have burnt to the ground due to spontaneous combustion of inflammable materials.”
Care experts state, “Seniors who simply don’t know how to part with their possessions are very vulnerable. The risks range from slipping on loose papers to the threat of fire to the health effects of mold and mildew. Clutter can also interfere with family relationships and leave adult children wondering if the only inheritance awaiting them is a big mess.”
The president of the non-profit National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD), Katherine “Kit” Anderson, CPO-CD, a certified professional organizer, commented, “Cluttering, for those with this tendency, probably has been happening for years. A ‘trigger episode’ such as going into a wheelchair or a health issue could worsen the problem. While the source of clutter can be anything from outdated medications to a kitchen full of unused pots and pans, paper is the biggest clutter culprit.”
“Clutter is the elephant in the room,” added Dr. Catherine Roster, a University of New Mexico clutter researcher. “People don’t want to acknowledge there is a problem, which creates an underlying anxiety, stress, guilt or embarrassment that can have a negative effect on their mental health and productivity. There are a lot of issues including economics. When there is general disorganization, people lose important documents and can’t find bills and then miss payments. So some serious issues start affecting them. All the research shows that people are slow to recognize the problem.”
The nationwide Home Instead Senior Care network is alerting family caregivers to watch for the signs in a senior’s home that indicate clutter buildup that could become a problem. Massafra stated, “This could include piles of mail and unpaid bills, difficulty walking safely through a home and frustration on the part of a senior trying to organize.”
Massafra cautioned, “Family caregivers can become just as overwhelmed as seniors. We suggest a Three Step Plan. Family caregivers can bring three bins into a senior’s home -- one for items the senior wants to keep, one for donations, the third for trash. Sometimes seniors just need a little attentive help.”
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 875 independently owned and operated franchises in 14 countries and 15 markets, spanning four continents. Home Instead Senior Care local offices employ 65,000+ CAREGivers who provide more than 40 million hours of client service each year through activities including companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, errands and shopping. Home Instead Senior Care founders Paul and Lori Hogan pioneered franchising in the non-medical senior care industry and are leading advocates for senior issues in America. The overriding ambition of Home Instead Senior Care is to place relationships before tasks while continuing to provide superior quality service that enhance the lives of seniors nationwide.
To learn more about Home Instead Senior Care in Trumbull and Sandy Hook, visit www.homeinstead.com, or call 203-426-
If you notice these characteristics about your senior loved ones or in their home, clutter could start creeping up on them.
1. Piles of mail and unpaid bills.
2. Difficulty walking safely through a home.
3. Frustration trying to organize.
4. Difficulty managing activities of daily living.
5. Expired food in the refrigerator.
6. Jammed closets and drawers.
7. Compulsive shopping.
8. Difficulty deciding whether to discard items.
9. A health episode such as a stroke or dementia.
Sidebar #3: If your senior won’t let go . . . .
“Getting rid of stuff is actually a two-step process: sorting and deciding to keep or dispose of a possession,”
Following are strategies to help loved ones let go from Katherine “Kit” Anderson, CPO-CD, president of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD), and Vickie Dellaquila, certified professional organizer and author of “Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash.”
1. Arrange and cheer small victories. Spend a short time helping a loved one clear off a table. Celebrate the accomplishment together.
2. Conduct an “experiment.”
3. Gently approach the idea of health and safety. Remind your loved one that too much clutter can prevent them from being safe in their homes, which could jeopardize their ability to stay at home. They could trip over papers on the floor or lose bills and medications.
4. Draft an agreement. Agree to box up unused clothing or tools. List items in the box and store for six months. If loved one does not use the items in that time, suggest donating them to a charity.
5. Control issue. Clutter is all about control, but so is being the one to decide where stuff goes. Remind your loved one if they don’t decide where something will go, someone else will.
For more information, contact the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD) at www.nsgcd.org or visit www.homeinstead.com. For tips on talking to a loved one about sensitive subjects, go to www.4070talk.com.
National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net
National Association of Senior Move Managers at www.nasmm.org for assistance helping older adults and their families downsize, relocate or modify their homes.
To get seniors off of junk mail lists, go to www.dmachoice.org, www.catalogchoice.org, www.optoutprescreen.com.
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Since 1994, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network has been devoted to providing the highest-quality senior home care. Compassionate Home Instead CAREGiversSM are an invaluable resource in helping families eliminate worry, reduce stress and reestablish personal freedom. From Alzheimer's and dementia support to respite care and companionship, our more than 900 locally owned and operated offices around the world help families through difficult times.
Home Instead Senior Care provides compassionate, home senior care services delivered to an individual's home. CAREGiver Services are provided from a few hours a day to long-term care 24 hours each day. All CAREGivers are thoroughly screened, extensively trained, insured and bonded, matched to an individual's preferences, professional and reliable.