As we get older, we face new challenges when maintaining our homes and lives. As much as we hate to admit it, our cognitive and physical abilities change. As our minds and bodies change, so must our strategies when it comes to organization. Creating strategies that work to our current abilities will help keep our independence and our health. Here are a few circumstances where getting organized can make your life easier.
Reaching the upper kitchen cabinets can be difficult. Take inventory of the kitchen items you use every day and place those items with in easy reach. If you don’t cook as much as you used to, pass on baking dishes and roasting pans to other family members or donate them to people in need. My 83 year old mother still loves to entertain, but no longer has the stamina to cook large meals for extended family. Now everyone brings a dish to share and she still gets to be the hostess. It’s a win/win for everyone.
Paper can be overwhelming for anyone. For a senior paper poses unique challenges. As we age, our working memory gradually diminishes. In fact, cognitive ability starts to decline in our early 30’s. Bills, insurance forms, wills, and correspondence can be difficult to keep track of. When organizing your paper, it is crucial to put all of your important papers in one place. Birth certificates, living trusts, social security numbers, wills, deeds and life insurance policies should be placed in a fire proof safe or safe deposit box. In addition to important documents, include your home and medical insurance information, names of doctors and pharmacy, even the name of the kid that mows your lawn. Give the safe combination or extra safe deposit key to someone you trust. Other papers can be filed in open systems so it is easy to see. Color code the files by category or create an index sheet that list all your files and where they are. Create a schedule for paying bills and write it on your calendar. Or have a friend or loved one remind you that it is bill paying day.
If mobility is an issue for you, try to keep items you use daily with in arms reach. Small baskets or bins can hold bills and mail, favorite hobbies and snacks. An ottoman or trunk with a hinged lid also works well if you prefer to keep items out of sight. Place easy to read labels on these containers in order to remember what is in them. Keep all containers out of the way of walking paths, stairways and halls to avoid trip hazards. In fact keep everything off the floor. If walking is difficult for you, remove area rugs so you don’t trip.
If you are having trouble getting started with your organizing tasks, begin with a plan. The Abundance Organizing Home Standards will help become more aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to do this alone. Enlist the help of a friend, neighbor or professional organizer. Work at your own pace. Even 15 minutes of organizing is better than no organizing. Stick with one area at a time until it is clear. Improving your organizational skills will build your independence, improve your safety and self esteem.