Mom or Dad's Cluttered Home - How to Keep Elderly Parent's Safe

Read Time: 5:16
Published: Mar 28th, 2021
Cluttered Homes - How to Keep Elderly Parent's Safe

How long have your parents lived in their home? For many older people, they have lived in their current home for some time. They usually are not interested in leaving their home. Older people are more prone to falls, and the results of a fall are a leading cause of death and long-term care. 

The National Institute on Aging says the fear of falling increases as a person gets older, even if they have not experienced a fall. Because of the fear, some older people avoid normal activities, including walking and shopping.

Many of these falls are in their home. The CDC reports that more than one out of four older people falls each year, but many never tell their doctor. If an older person does fall, it doubles their chance of having another fall.

Often the first wake-up sign for an adult son or daughter that Mom or Dad may have some significant aging issues is when they learn of an emergency room visit

Those Rugs are Dangerous

A person tripping on a rug.

Texas A&M Health Science Center

The primary causes of falls at home are rugs and clutter. Home hazards like broken or uneven steps and throw rugs, or other clutter that can easily be tripped over are one of several reasons people fall at home.

A New England study showed the most common cause of an indoor fall result in an injury was throw rugs. Other obstacles that clutter people's homes are cited as reasons for falls in older people.

Why do older adults love their throw rugs? Why do they clutter their homes? Not every older person does these things, but they risk their own health and safety when they do.

Reasons for Falls – Other Than Rugs

In addition to clutter (including those rugs), there are other reasons people fall in their homes. The CDC says they include:

  • Problems with walking and balance
  • Lower body weakness
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Medication use like tranquilizers, sedatives, and antidepressants. Some over-the-counter medicines can also affect a person's balance. 
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Some of these health issues are normal things that happen as we get older. We all experience changes in our health, body, and mind once we get past age 40. The problems become more pronounced when we get into our 60s and beyond. 

Suffering the Indignities of Aging

Many people are trying to stay as independent as possible, even in their 70s and 80s. They want to stay in their homes. Their family might suggest downsizing, uncluttering their home, or even going to independent living or, if necessary, assisted living. However, often they resist.

Carol Bradley Bursack, an author, columnist, consultant, and speaker, says parents get tired of being bossed around. She writes that parents get sick and tired of "suffering the indignities of aging." She writes that they feel "bossed around by everyone from the government to their kids, and you can understand why they often get stubborn."

"Where they live maybe, in their minds, is their "last stand," she says.

Ways to Keep Them Safe

Fall Death Rates in the U.S. increased 30% from 2007 to 2016 for older adults.

The CDC says falls are a major concern and the death rates from falls have increased. Plus, the risk of needing long-term health care following a fall is significant. There are some suggestions to keep them safe in their homes.

Clear up clutter and get rid of the throw rugs. Walkways should be clear. Anything that a person could easily trip over should be removed. This includes things like pet bowls, telephone cords, and wires. Walkthrough the person's house and look for anything that could cause Mom or Dad to trip and fall.

Ensure there is enough light throughout the house Night lights can be helpful when your older parent gets up in the middle of the night. Also, be sure to place often-used items in easy reach. Some falls are caused when a senior stands on a stool to get to something.

Getting Rid of Clutter Isn’t Easy for Older People

Getting people to get rid of their stuff is no easy task, especially for both kids and the elderly. It is even harder as you get older to let go of items you have had for decades.  

Vickie Dellaquila is a professional organizer. She has had years of experience in this area and wrote the book – Don't Toss My Memories In The Trash.

She outlines ten reasons why older adults have a problem parting with items they have owned for so many years. One of the reasons is the sentimental attachment they have for the item. They are also reluctant to give away anything that was given to them as a gift. This sense of loyalty just adds to clutter.

There are other reasons, including a fear of change. This fear of change increases as you get older and the unknown future is something they dwell on. 

The problem of what to get rid of increases as a person moves, either due to downsizing or moving into a long-term care facility. Keeping your older parent safe is goal one. Being proactive by getting rid of clutter and removing throw rugs will make them safer as they get older.

Your Parents May Be Getting Older – But So are You!

As you think about the changes your older parents are facing, start thinking about your future and the costs of burdens you will face because of aging. There are many challenges your family will deal with unless you plan for them now.

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will give you guaranteed tax-free resources so you can afford your choice of quality care, including in-home care. Many policies include care coordination to help your family develop a plan of care, find quality caregivers, and help you have a safe place at home to live so you can avoid a facility.

The best time to obtain coverage is when you are in your 40s or 50s, when premiums are low and your health is at its best. Be sure to seek the assistance of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. The specialist should work with the major companies and have a very good understanding of policy design, underwriting rules, and claims. 

Find a trusted and experienced specialist by clicking here.

About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

Editor's Note

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LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell
Linda Maxwell

Contributor Since
December 11th, 2017

Former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in.

About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

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