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Real Life Clutter Clean-Ups
Date:5/20/2010

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Clutter can creep up on seniors before they know it, said Paul Hogan, co-founder and CEO of the Home Instead Senior Care network. “Piles of mail and unpaid bills, difficulty walking safely through a home, frustration trying to organize and difficulty managing activities of daily living are all signs that clutter could be posing a danger to older adults and driving families to the breaking point,” Hogan said. “That’s when it may be time for family caregivers to offer help and support.”

Sometimes, there’s no obvious reason for accumulating possessions, and health hazards can result. Home Instead CAREGiver Karen Reymore said that one client had collected so many boxes of food, she could no longer walk safely in her home.

Helping seniors de-clutter is often a matter of time and patience, Reymore noted. “I took time for this client to get to know and trust me then I explained how dangerous it was for her to have so many boxes. Also, much of the food was outdated. So I sat everything in front of her, we went through that together and she decided what to keep. It took a year. We could do nothing in a hurry because some days she didn’t want to sort.”

Physical limitations can get in the way as well. One client packed many of her things in 10 plastic containers for a temporary move while her apartment was being renovated. When she moved back, it was too much for her. “For three years she couldn’t unpack,” Reymore said. “So I’m helping her do that; we’re still in the process.”

Some de-cluttering projects become a poignant trip down memory lane. When Lisa Barr Kazmierczak’s client sent her downstairs to retrieve a newspaper, she found 20 years worth of pape
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