Messy equals stressy! For elder people who may not have the same mobility or organizational skills as they did when they were younger, “keeping the house clean” can feel like just another chore to take care of in an already busy day. Errands can pile up, tasks to do outside the house can take up much of the time of the day and keeping track of a busy life can leave the most mundane of chores left by the wayside.
But keeping a clean living space is an important part of having a good quality of life and reducing stress. With so many things to worry about during the day and the week, especially for older people who may be facing complex health concerns or complicated financial matters, having a messy living space can only add to the stress. “Hoarding” of old items is often seen in older people, but it’s important to remember that much of this type of behavior comes from a place of frustration. Keeping year’s worth of old newspapers may seem absurd on the surface, but it can often be a rationalization for being unable to properly tidy a home. “This isn’t trash I haven’t taken out… it’s a collection!”
For elder people who may be unable to maintain a clean home for themselves, this should spur a conversation with friends and relatives about their living situation. Not every case needs to be as drastic as a move to an assisted living or a retirement home. Something as simple as having an aid (or a Care Manager!) come in once a week and tidy up or help with housework , along with other help like filling prescriptions or getting groceries, can make a big difference in the cleanliness of an older person’s home.
When an elder person has a clean, tidy living space, it simplifies their day-to-day lives. This goes for everybody of all ages but having a clean living space makes life at home easier and less stressful. Going into the kitchen to make a sandwich is a lot easier when the countertop is clear and the trash bin is empty with a fresh trash bag. By the same token, sitting down in the living room for a cup of tea and a book is much more refreshing when the coffee table is clear, the rug is vacuumed, and the couches actually have room for sitting!
Every elder person’s living situation and overall ability is different and unique. Some elder people may be unable to sweep or vacuum on their own and may need the help of a home aid or a cleaning service, while others may just need someone to make runs for them to the disposal facility for their weekly trash. Whatever the case may be, the benefit of keeping a clean home is clear. A clean home is a safer home for our older relatives and friends. A clean home is a happier home. And a clean and tidy home leaves us time for the things we enjoy in life.
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