Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Ever Notice How Much 'Stuff' The Average Person Has To Manage?"

As we go through life, we attract, collect, and maintain various mementos, keepsakes, souvenirs, books, tools, housewares, appliances, linens, clothing, sporting goods, spare parts, items associated with the hobbies we currently and formerly pursued, and so much more. Collectively, and affectionately, this is known as our "stuff."

If we like working with our hands, we have a large assortment of tools, bolts, nails, fasteners, and spare parts to small and large appliances, lawnmowers and other power tools, and household systems. We can make things from scratch or make many required repairs. There likely is quite the assortment of lumber, wire, pipes, tubes, fittings, cement, tile, and other building materials for maintenance, repairs, and remodeling projects.

For those who like hobbies such as sewing, scrapbooking, or crafts, there are patterns, materials, tools, buttons, adornments, and accessories that are required.

For gardening, there are several tools, seeds, bags of fertilizer and potting soil, pesticides, pots, and more that are necessary.

For sports - depending on the season - we have baseballs, gloves, bats, footballs, basketballs, hockey sticks, helmets, skates, soccer balls, tennis rackets and tennis balls, and an assortment or braces, aids, devices, and proper clothing or uniforming.

For seasonal pursuits, we have barbeque grills (portable or built-in as part of an outdoor kitchen), lawn chairs, picnic tables and umbrellas, sleds, pool toys, bicycles, and the like.

For our cars and appliances, we have a variety or lubricants, maintenance items (spark plugs, for instance), belts, and other such items.

To maintain our homes and vehicles, we have lawnmowers, snow blowers (for some), sidewalk edgers, hand trimmers, safety equipment (gloves, ear protectors, and goggles, for example), power washers, detergents and disinfectants, degreasers, sponges, buckets, and many other cleaning supplies.

All of this "stuff" has to be kept someplace and still allow room for us to live comfortably in our homes. It has to be stored out-of-the-way so that accessibility and general movement and maneuverability in the home is not affected.

Then we have linens, towels, general hygiene products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, for example), and of course our clothes (including shoes, outwear, and accessories) - ones we currently are wearing, seasonal items, ones bought for future use because they were on sale or we foresee a need for them, ones we no longer wear that are just too good or too important to discard, and ones that should have been tossed a long time ago but never were.

Of course there are items that are used frequently such as our foodstuffs, beverages, silverware, cooking utensils (including pots and pans), plats, dishes, cups, and glasses that need to be stored for easy access and retrieval.

Then there are all of those items - family photographs, sports memorabilia, ticket stubs, pennants, programs, yearbooks, badges earned, awards and trophies, plaques and citations, and so much more - that we retain and hold onto as we go through life to remind us of where we have been. Multiply the amount of stuff retained by the number of children.

Now that we have computers, smartphones, tablets, HD TVs, and other types of electronic items, we have charging cables, accessories, peripherals, and other items that need to be properly stored or corralled to keep them from getting lost, misplaced, or damaged. Files, photos, music, and videos take up a tremendous amount of storage space (some may be on the cloud), but this largely is not visible. They still may present organizational and clutter issues whether visible or not.

This applies to nearly all of us - aging-in-place providers as well as our clients and those we want to serve and represents a significant challenge to living successfully in our homes. Finding places for everything to be out of the way or helping ourselves and others deal with the process of cutting back and eliminating unnecessary, damaged, or obsolete items is a significant challenge.  

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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.