How quickly every corner of a caregiver's home seems to fill up with medication bottles, assistive devices, insurance paperwork, and all the other stuff associated with home care! These ideas will help you clamp down on clutter -- and restore a bit of calm to your life:
1. Build an oasis: one little area that's your "no caregiving" zone.
It doesn't have to be a whole room or even a corner of a room -- a certain surface, like a stretch of countertop or tabletop, will do. No pills, no papers. This area is meant to always stay nice. Place flowers there and forbid anyone else's junk in this serene, worry-free space.
2. Set up stations.
Designate one caregiving station, where you store medications, hygiene and cleaning products, emergency paperwork, and a care-tracking journal (in which everyone who takes part in care can record events). It can be a cupboard or shelving. An entertainment station could store all books and DVDs, so they're not scattered everywhere. A coat station (like a closet) becomes the only place outerwear is stored. Having designated areas teaches all family members what "the place for everything" is.
3. Pitch when your loved one isn't looking.
If your loved one raises a fuss because you're throwing out magazines she hasn't read or paper cups that could be used again, get in the habit of tossing things out of the person's range of sight. For your loved one, it's usually "out of sight, out of mind." For you, the purges are sheer necessity.
4. Call a five-minute cleanup.
Set a timer and involve everyone in the house in spending five minutes picking up stray items and putting them where they belong. It doesn't take long -- it's even energizing! -- but it goes a long way toward minimizing the drifts of stuff.
5. Preserve clutter digitally.
So much of clutter is memorabilia, framed photographs, collectibles, and other objects that family members dread letting go of. Only problem: They take up so much room! One solution is to take pictures of these items -- then box the actual things up for storage, donation, or sale. Many older adults enjoy looking at the photos without actually needing to have the objects in the room.