Falls are the most frequent accident affecting people aged 65 and over and they are also the leading cause of death by injury in those aged over 74. The biggest risks for falls include problems with balance, decreased muscle strength, and visual problems, but one important factor that should not be overlooked is clutter in the home. In the book The Second Fifty Years: Promoting Health and Preventing Disability, R. Berg and J. Cassells note that the biggest environmental hazards for falls are clutter and mess. It is therefore key for seniors to give their home a good spring clean, and to take the steps they need to keep their home tidy throughout the year.
Ideal home layouts
It is important to analyse the interior of one’s home to spot possible tripping hazards. These can include books piled up on the floor, low lying furniture, and even small toys left by a grandchild or other member of the family. Floors should be swept or vacuumed regularly. The elderly should have plenty of free space to walk through, though ideally, large furniture pieces should be placed close enough to each other so that they can be used for support. The key is to have as much clear space as reasonably possible and to keep all furniture close to eye level. One study found that loose, unsecured rugs and carpets with curled edges “are recognised environmental hazards that may contribute to falls.” Seniors should opt instead for either wall-to-wall carpeting or laminated or wooden floors.
The effect of clutter on the senior psyche
Around 90% of British people feel that mess and clutter makes them feel unproductive and unhappy. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that these feelings can have serious consequences for a senior person’s health. Depression in older people, for instance, is linked to an increased death of death and disability. It is also linked to cognitive problems and a higher likelihood of developing dementia - all of which can increase the lack of safety and the risk of falls. Seniors can do plenty to improve safety at home by making their environment more appealing. They can boost their self-confidence with safety systems that inform emergency departments if they have had a fall. Phones can be placed in more than one room, whenever cables are covered so as not to pose an extra tripping risk.
A clutter-free environment is a daily task
In order to avoid clutter build-up, filing important documents and tidying up daily are key. Older people who may need help can benefit greatly from part-time cleaners who visit the home and keep surfaces clean and clear. A filing system should also be set up for bills, correspondence, and other written information. Family members can help seniors to switch to online billing, helping them with tasks such as creating Cloud-stored files for any bills or important information they receive by e-mail.
Many studies have shown that clutter can bring about physical and mental risks for persons aged over 65. Clutter should be taken seriously and if necessary, professional cleaners should be relied upon to help those with limited mobility or those who choose to rely on a bit of extra help for greater comfort. Finally, older people can benefit from relying less on paper-based correspondence and more on e-mails as a way to avoid having to file items daily.
Home health care is the fastest growing sector in the health industry. But a healthy home should be your goal just as readily as it is for those who require health services in the privacy of their own home. An uncluttered home can provide beneficial psychological effects, improving your mood and mindset. It can also reduce the risk of bacterial infections in the home, improving your immune system. Moreover, a calm home lowers the risk of accident or injury for you and your family.
Improves your immune system
There is a difference between hygiene and microbial exposure. A misconception exists that having a clean home can weaken the immune system, but what it actually does is lower the chance of exposure to infectious microbial bacteria at home. Improving the hygiene of your home by cleaning dirty surfaces you may touch with your hands and so forth lowers your exposure to these infectious bacteria, which lowers your chance of getting sick and boosts your health.
Family members with lowered immune systems such as children or the elderly will also more readily notice the health benefits of a clean room. As dirt breaks down and suffuses throughout a room, it can create smells and attract flies and other disease-carrying insects. While dust and clutter may not themselves be infectious, these creatures they've attracted can carry a variety of illnesses. Thus, cleaning removes these vicarious forms of infection from your home as well and keeps your home smelling fresh and clean.
Puts your mind at ease
Plus, cleaning the space inside your home can have benefits for your mental health as well. Many people exhibit subconscious or low-level forms of claustrophobia and mysophobia. This is often reinforced by our modern knowledge of dirt and bacteria, and while it may not be as invasive as diagnosed cases, it can increase our chances of depression and other negative mental diseases because we understand at some level the discomfort a dirty home gives us.
Lowers the risk of injury
The risk of an accident or injury in a cluttered home is also considerably higher. Of these, a disproportionate number of child injuries can be directly linked to child walkers, fire extinguishers, and clutter that sticks out into walkways in the home. You’re also more likely to suffer more serious injuries at home, such as injuries due to a home fire or smoke inhalation because it takes longer to respond to the affected area, and there are more flammable materials present.
An uncluttered home can provide a variety of health benefits. Removing dirt and dust that may lure in insects and other animals that carry diseases will lower your family’s chance of infection. It can lower the risk of injury to your family, and allow you to move through your home with ease and peace of mind. A clean living space can also boost your mood and sense of relaxation as you remove an overload of sensory triggers that might be unconsciously putting you on edge in your own home.
Inspiring the UK to Spring Clean their homes and lives.