Monday, April 4, 2016

Let's Set The Example And Clean & Organize Our Home First"

The idea of spring cleaning seems to come right along with the season. Spring signals a rebirth, a fresh start, a clean slate, and a good feeling. So, it's natural that we want to do a little sprucing up to translate that good feeling and freshness into a cleaner, more organized home.

We start with cleaning products that add a fresh scent while they work their wonders on our walls, floors, ceiling fans, bathroom fixtures, lights, windows, trim, and more. It's work, but we sure like the end result. Depending on how long it's been since the last comprehensive cleaning, it may be relatively easy or fairly tough to do.

Notice, that I'm talking about "we" because that is the position we need to take. While we want our aging-in-place clients to live in a safe and comfortable environment, we know that many of them aren't able to do so without a lot of cleaning, stacking, sorting, and tossing - and possibly some help.

Largely, all of us hang onto to too much stuff. In itself, this isn't necessarily bad - only when it begins to take over or infringe on the comfort and safety of our living space.

So, we are going to set the example. We are starting at home for a few reasons. First, we need to gain the proper perspective of what our clients might be facing just in keeping their homes clean and in dealing with the large amount of stuff that just seems to accumulate.

Second, we need to gain an appreciation for exactly what is involved in sorting through old magazines, spare parts, obsolete sporting equipment and toys, broken appliances (large as well as small), outdated foodstuffs and supplies, clothing that has gone out of style and likely will remain so, clothing that no longer fits or looks anything like it did when it was new, and mementos and souvenirs we have hung onto over the years.

Actually, this is no small task and isn't likely to be completed in short order unless we just toss most everything we see. Realistically, we are going to need to review and evaluate each item and place it into items we toss, those we can donate, and the ones to save in some type of storage container.

Third, we need to gain the experience of going through these items to produce  a measure of empathy so that we can honestly relate to people when they claim it's too much work to sort through everything, that they need to keep everything because all of it is important or sentimental, or that they might need it again sometime.

They will make a strong argument for keeping all of it or certainly most of it. Then we can recount how we made it through this process and survived. That's why we go first and set the example. It wouldn't be right for us to work with our clients and coax them into cleaning out their excess items so their homes will live more comfortably and they can navigate them easier and safer when we know that we haven't done as much in our own homes. This way, we can have a clear conscience in urging them to be more aggressive in deciding what to keep and what needs to go.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.