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Clutter can cause physical and mental anguish.

Clutter and poor organization can cause trips and falls. And contrary to what many people believe, falls and unorganized or overstuffed homes are not normal or expected parts of aging. When you stay in control of your “stuff,” you decrease stress and distraction in your life, experience more inner peace, and significantly reduce your chance of tripping or falling. Stay physically safe with these tips:

  • Keep cell phone in your pocket or a holder attached to your belt in case you fall or get stuck in a risky situation
  • Avoid the use of throw rugs and cords extended across walkways
  • Ensure pathways are clear of piles of paper, too much furniture, and laundry baskets
  • Wear proper fitting non-skid footwear
  • Invest in adequate lighting, especially to and from the bathroom at night
  • Wear your hearing aids if you need them – to prevent being easily started
  • Use proper equipment to help you move around safely (like a walker or cane)

Be a Clutter Buster

  • Invite a friend over to help you see non-essential things that can be thrown away or donated.
  • Reduce clutter by scheduling time to sort through junk mail and piles of miscellaneous
  • household things that easily accumulate.
  • Put things away as soon as you are done using them.
  • Avoid impulse purchases and ensure you have a plan for any items you bring home.
  • If you need to dig out of a big clutter problem, start small and take one room at a time. Do not overwhelm yourself with taking on your entire house all at once.
  • Clutter may not just be garbage or useless items. It may be the overcrowded walkway stuffed with extra furniture that’s hard to navigate.
  • Learning to have an eye for a hazardous situation can be acquired over time. If you think it is a hazard, then it probably is. Trust your intuition.

You are taking good care of yourself when you work to eliminate clutter. Not only do you decrease your risk of tripping and falling, research tells us that our mental health and energy improve when our living space is clean and well organized.

Candice Jagla is the wellness coordinator at Valley VNA Senior Care in Neenah, Wisconsin. She has a background in occupational therapy and acts as the liaison between Valley VNA residents and their individual therapy agencies, ensuring the completion of home exercises and educating staff on follow-through.