If you or a loved one has decided to age-in-place or relocate after retirement, healthy aging should be a top priority. One of the best ways to ensure you are setting the right foundation is creating a healthy and hygienic environment perfect to enjoy with those you love. The physical and mental benefits of a healthy home are boundless.
In an article titled Aging at Home: Home Safety for Elderly Loved Ones, some of the dangers of a cluttered or unsafe home to a healthy aging environment are explained. Claire Samuels writes about the importance of a safe home to “prevent injuries, reduce fall risks, and ensure independence” for healthy aging.
Here are a few benefits you or your loved one can enjoy when a great physical environment is created for healthy aging:
A clean, clear, decluttered home limits your exposure to harmful allergens that have the potential to irritate respiratory issues and allergic reactions.
Lowers Risk of Injury
An organized home can reduce the chances of household items being hazards to mobility. Items obstructing walking space or paths may increase the risk or slips, falls, and trips for you or anyone else in or visiting the home. Organizing and decluttering the home can keep your home safe.
Clean homes are less likely to accumulate viruses, bacteria and fungi likely to make you ill. This is very important for aging seniors while COVID-19 and it’s variants could be a threat to illness. You can protect yourself from harmful pathogens by streamlining your belongings and keeping the home clean.
Keeps Pests at Bay
Afraid to travel into that cluttered, dark, damp basement, attic or storage space? Most people are. One way to reclaim the space, is sorting and organizing the items stored there. Clearing the space can help homeowners take the reins on any harmful, disease carrying pest issues and, in many cases, allow you to assess home damage.
Mental Health Benefits
Healthy aging should always include mental well being. Since mental health can impact physical health, it’s important to prioritize creating a space that is stress free, encourages mental clarity, and fosters emotional health.
Here are three mental health benefits the right physical environment can foster:
According to a recent Huffington Post article, clutter “has proven, tangible effects on your mental and physical well-being.” Decluttering specific areas of your home can help reduce stress.
Boosts Mental Clarity
Those who live in cleaner homes are more likely to eat healthy, sleep well, and be more productive. A space clean of clutter provides less distractions and allows you to locate necessary items quickly.
Better Emotional Health
In a recent article featured on VeryWellMind.com, experts cite findings on the impact of a clean home on emotional health. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the end result of a cleaner home can decrease feelings of anxiety, reduce fatigue, improve concentration and decrease depressive symptoms in addition to the benefit of reduced stress.
What changes can I make for safety, accessibility, and comfort?
It is imperative to clear clutter
As a home becomes more “lived in” over the years, an accumulation of physical representations of special moments happens over that time. The average American home contains over 300,000 items ranging from gifted items, keepsakes, photos, furniture and storied items for friends or loved ones.
Remove any slip or trip hazards from the floor.
It’s important to remove items like worn rugs, excess furniture, exposed cords, or any other objects that will obscure a clear moving path.
Keep high use items in a convenient place.
All of us take comfort in very specific items. The best way for an older adult to enjoy it is in a convenient way. Placing items strategically encourages use that does not require a constant search to use a treasured item. Choosing clear dedicated spaces for the items loved and used most takes the guesswork out of finding an item. The more the placement is suited for ease of use, the better.
Be sure to keep the home bright and open.
Lighting a room properly has benefits above and beyond sight itself. According to the American Academy of Opthamology, “seniors may have both a higher need for natural light and a harder time getting it than do younger people.” Using brighter bulbs, hanging colorful artwork, or opening windows, curtains, and blinds to let more natural light in could be the change needed to invite the right amount of light into any room.
Creating an environment for healthy aging may require help from experts. Most often, it takes the average family 9 to 18 months to completely clear a home. No matter how you begin, remember the great benefits of decluttering for your health. If you are overwhelmed with the thought of decluttering on your own, companies like Caring Transitions can help. We can help you create the plan for a healthy home that will be enjoyed for many years to come. The benefits can extend you or your loved one’s quality of life now and in the long run.