As people age and want to remain living in their homes, they necessarily are dealing with a lifetime accumulation of keepsakes and memories. In most cases, there simply isn’t enough storage places to hold it all, and people are very slow to cull their items and discard what is unnecessary to retain.
It’s not just seniors either. People of any age – renters as well as owners – have their homes and personal safety within their living spaces impacted by the presence of so many items they have hung onto and acquired – and just plain clutter.
Clutter can take on many forms – from items neatly organized, stacked, or placed inside boxes or storage containers to haphazard stacks or piles of random items strewn about the home. There can be mail, magazines, catalogs, unwashed laundry that hasn’t made it to the washer, new clothing that hasn’t made it to a closet or dresser, used dishes that never made it back to the kitchen, cat or dog toys, children’s items, books, papers and receipts, boxes (full or empty), blankets or towels that have fallen onto the floor, and so many more items that take up the living space and interfere with normal navigation of the home. Of course, this becomes even more challenging for anyone with mobility issues.
There are many reasons for items being allowed to remain out and about in a home from not having a place for storing anything new when it comes home from where it was purchased, items in transit such as tools being used for a project but not having been returned to the garage or basement or items being taken back to a store where they were purchased for credit or exchange, clothing and linens going to or from the laundry room but not put away where they normally are kept, or used cartons, containers, or wrappers of snacks, beverages, or household items that haven’t made to the trash or recycling containers.
Clutter is a fact, and it is more problematic in some homes than others. The key issue though is that it affects safety in the home. This certainly is an area we should focus on any time we do home audits or assessments. It may take some behavior modification or paradigm shifts for people to be more orderly and neat in their homes, but that shouldn’t stop us from noting and commenting on it.
Clutter is a major reason for falls and other injuries in homes. People trip on items that are on the floor, or their vision is affected by excessive items in the home – causing them to misstep or walk into something. When falls or other resulting injuries are serious enough, a medical response is required. This is where the presence of clutter becomes even more concerning.
Whether it’s a direct result of the clutter or excess items in a home that causes a major fall or injury, or it’s another medical emergency that someone suffers that requires a “911” call for paramedics to respond, clutter in a home can severely hamper the ability of emergency personnel to get a stretcher down a hallway or into a bedroom. It may affect their ability to provide the necessary treatment because of the difficulty in getting their equipment into the home and to the location in the home where it is needed.
This is probably the most important reason to begin concentrating on removing clutter from homes.