Life lessons

Why is Decluttering so Beneficial? 

There are obvious reasons to declutter. Safety: Clutter can trip us up. Efficiency: With declining eyesight, it gets hard to find things we use every day. Focus: Messy environments can make it hard to process information.

Clutter is a growing problem today among all populations, and especially the elderly. To help your loved one downsize, create more room in their home and/or just make it safer to age in place, it is important to note the difference between hoarders and clutterers. Hoarders are obsessive and will often need a trained professional specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder to let go. Clutterers, the more common type, are more apt to let go with a little encouragement and support. This article deals with the latter.

Why Is It So Hard to Do?

Whether you want to pare down the stuff in your home, garage, or a storage unit, one problem is knowing where to start. The more we have, the more overwhelming it is. And for some of us, the idea can be extremely anxiety-producing. A recent Yale study found that for some people, a part of our brain reacts the same way to the anticipated loss of valued possessions as it does to the idea of quitting an addiction. And there is the additional factor for  the elderly of not wanting to lose a connection with the past, whether that be old school papers or a favorite jar opener you’ve had in the family since 1969 (most of us have at least one of these things still hanging around the house!)

Some Tips for Success

  1. Get “buy in” from your loved one. Discuss the benefits of paring down, including potentially making some money from reselling your “stuff.” That can be through a yard sale, consignment shop, Craig’s List, or eBay. According to the New York Times, a well-planned garage sale typically nets between $500 and $1,000.
  2. Share the process. Come up with ways to make it an enjoyable activity you share, such as reviewing old photos or school papers together, or doing a “fashion show” to see what clothes to keep. Create incentives—such as an outing or meal after doing a certain amount of “work.”
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Help your loved one develop a strategy that addresses a room at a time, and then a single task at a time, so they are not overwhelmed. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than three hours of sorting a day, which is about how long we can sustain focus without a break.

    Photo by Pixabay (geralt)

    Photo by Pixabay (geralt)

  4. Get organized. Consider preparing three bags or boxes and labeling them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. You might add a fourth box for things that need repairing, mending or dry cleaning, but don’t add more options than that. Put away what’s in your Keep pile at the end of each day and throw out or recycle what’s in your Toss pile.
  5. Be decisive. When in doubt, throw it out. Organizers often use the rule of thumb that if you haven’t used it/worn it/looked at it in a year, it’s time for it to go. When it comes to ornamental items or keepsakes, the other common standard is to only keep those things you really love and that give you pleasure. If that knick-knack your Aunt Marge gave you makes you cringe, it has no place in your home, regardless of the sentiment attached to it.
  6. Get professional help. If the job is just too big or you need direction, consider hiring a professional organizer. They can give you an overall strategy, or guide you through the process. Do a local search for “Certified Professional Organizers,” if you don’t have a referral for a professional.

Going through our possessions and ridding ourselves of things that no longer fit our lives is a process we can all benefit from. You may find that going through this process with your loved one will be a positive and rewarding experience for both of you. And you may just find you are motivated to do it for yourself as well!

In any relationship, it is important to foster trust, communication, and respect. This is especially true in a caregiving relationship. There are many ways to strengthen the caregiving relationship, and here are 3 essential keys to consider:

Respect-

Creating a relationship with the client and their family based off of mutual respect is one of the most important steps towards a strong caregiving team. Learning about the client and their needs builds a stronger understanding of what makes them feel safe, comfortable, and valued. Ren, an Aspen Senior Care client, mentions how this helps her grandfather. “The caregiver is sympathetic, accommodating, and has gotten to know my grandfather so they have a friendship. She brings newspaper clippings she finds funny and they sit and talk about life and the past.”

Respect in Caregiving Pixabay (Beesmurf)

Photo by Pixabay (Beesmurf)

Trust-

In caregiving, each person must know that they can count on one another and that they will be looking out for each other’s best interests. Kirsten, a caregiver with Aspen Senior Care says, “Trust is essential in caregiving because we want our clients and their families to be at ease knowing we will be dependable and honest in providing the best quality of care for them and their loved one.”

Communication-

It’s important for the caregiver and client to communicate well by listening to and understanding one another’s needs. Together you can determine what goals should be accomplished and ensure that each person is receiving the care they need. When both individuals know what to expect, misunderstandings and frustrations can be avoided.

Gary Staples, Owner of Aspen Senior Care recalls a situation where respect, trust, and communication turned a problematic situation with a client around for the better. 

“We had the opportunity of helping with a senior couple in their home. The husband was caring for his wife but was also dealing with his own dementia. At times he would become frustrated with the caregiver and accuse her of stealing his Irish Spring soap. Although she did not take the soap, he would insist she was stealing from him and he was quite upset.

The caregiver communicated with the daughter of the couple and the office staff to discuss the situation. The daughter understood that her father was confused and that the caregiver had not stolen anything. Unfortunately, her father would continue to accuse the caregiver each time she visited the home.  

The office staff thought long and hard about ways we could ease his worries and repair his trust in the caregiver. We came up with the idea of putting together a large tower of Irish Spring soap on a nice platter and tying it up with a large ribbon. We presented him with the gift and he was so delighted and grateful!

The tower remained on his coffee table where he could see it each day. From then on did not have any worries that the caregiver was stealing his soap!

Irish Spring Soap

By building a tower of Irish Spring soap, ‘a monument of trust’, we were able to show respect and sensitivity for our client and give him peace of mind in a way that he knew we cared.”

At Aspen Senior Care we value being professional in-home caregivers our clients can trust and rely on at all times. Going above and beyond to create a healthy relationship with our clients and their families is our number one priority.

To learn more about us or get caregiving support, call our office today at 801-224-5910.