House

Ask yourself if the home is safe and healthy for your senior to continue to live in it independently.  Consider its cleanliness, upkeep demands, accessibility for limited mobility, and climate controls like heating and air conditioning.

If your answer is yes, you are confident the home is safe for your senior, so you can continue to read or move onto another topic.  If you’re not sure, then ask yourself more questions.  Is there a cleanliness issue?  If so, you need to determine how the house can be kept cleaner.  Is this something you or another family member can do?  If not, then explore other alternatives. One option is to have someone come into your senior’s home on a regular basis to help them keep their home clean. A few ways to find someone to do this include asking friends, neighbors, church members, or others if they have someone they use or know of someone that they would recommend for your senior.  Another option is to contact one of the many senior home healthcare services because many offer housekeeping services.  You can search for Home Health Care services near your senior.

Does your senior have so many “treasures” that they are creating clutter around the house? You want to minimize obstacles that could cause your senior to fall. This can be an issue even if your senior is very mobile. Talking about the clutter can be a difficult conversation with your loved one, and the first step is to mutually agree that there are too many things around. The next step is to come up with a plan to clear out some of the extra items.

My mother had a lovely solution to the tug between giving things away and wanting to hold onto them. She remembered things that family members had admired, even occasionally asking if anyone wanted this or that. She kept track of everything, and as time went on she marked the items on the bottom, back or box with the family member’s name. Since the decisions were already made, when she was ready to let go of a cherished possession, it was easy to give it to that person the next time we were together. I still think it is a loving and thoughtful way to start the process.

If it’s hard for your senior to let go of their treasures, finding a new and loving home for the items can help them feel positive about the change. If there is resistance to giving items away or even selling them, explore finding a storage area within their home. A dry basement or attic space are good options. And you can also consider renting a storage space. Another option is to contact a move manager who is an expert at handling these situations and can help you and your senior through the culling down process.

After we had gone to college, one of my grandmothers would give my sisters and I treasured pieces from her home for special occasions. One Christmas I received a beautiful platter for future holiday meals.  And for my wedding, I received an engraved silver tray that had been an anniversary gift to my grandparents from their employees in their knitting business.  In addition to being beautiful family keepsakes, I so appreciated being able to thank my grandmother and have her see the items in loving use in my home.

Apply the same questions to maintenance of both the inside and outside of the home.  What’s needed will determine the kind of services you look for.  If outside maintenance includes lawn upkeep and snow removal, finding a reliable landscaper who can do both would be a place to start.  If you have inside maintenance needs, such as painting or even just changing light bulbs that are out of reach, your senior may need a reliable handyman.  Again, you can search for Landscape and Handyman services near your senior.

For a checklist on home maintenance, go to the AARP Home Maintenance Checklists by Season.