It is safe to assume that most people would like to age in place. “Ageing in place” is a well-used concept as governments look to the future in an ageing world. In 1994, the health and social policy ministers of OECD countries reached an agreement on the overall objective of policies for the care of frail older people:
“Elderly people, including those in need of care and support should, wherever possible, be enabled to continue living in their own homes, and where this is not possible, they should be enabled to live in a sheltered and supportive environment which is as close to their community as possible, in both the social and geographical sense. (OECD 1994:3)”
This is very much reflected in the Healthy Ageing Strategy published in December 2016 by the Ministry of Health. There are things that you can do that allow you to age in place for longer. Decluttering is one of these things.
Decluttering is essential to make sure you are able to remain in your home for as long as possible. The benefits of decluttering and organizing your belongings while you are able enough are that you can:
- Prioritize what items you want and need
- Organise the important things like personal, financial and legal documents
- Sort out photos, letters and other treasures you have been saving
- Sell, throw-out or donate the things you no longer use
Taking your time during this process is important so that you can make the best decisions for you. If you do need help decluttering, check out providers here on Eldernet.
Decluttering can also help reduce the risk of the things that usually result in people needing higher levels of care. Reducing clutter opens up spaces which reduces the possibility of tripping and hurting yourself. Serious falls can permanently reduce mobility and independence.
One of the first signs that an older person might not be able to live on their own is the the way that they take care of themselves and their home. If they suddenly are not taking the same amount of care as before, it is a good idea to check in and see what is going on. It may just be that they are finding they cannot do the same things as before due to reduced mobility, that is where home help workers can come in to help with daily chores etc. Take a look at your local options here on Eldernet. Or it could be a sign of self-neglect, social withdrawal. If you think this is the case, speak openly with your loved one and consult with your GP who can advise you on the options. A clean living environment as well as good personal hygiene is crucial to older people’s health.