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MailTribune.com
  • Take stock of all your 'stuff'

  • "How to Make Your Home More Age Friendly" is the title of a U.S. News and World Report article written in 2010. I found it when I was going through a box of old papers, deciding what to keep and what to discard.
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  • "How to Make Your Home More Age Friendly" is the title of a U.S. News and World Report article written in 2010. I found it when I was going through a box of old papers, deciding what to keep and what to discard.
    The task of culling through long-kept papers can improve your disposition. Really, I'm serious.
    In your house, is there a lot of "stuff" you've accumulated over the years? Maybe it's in boxes in the back of a closet or in big bags with twist ties in the corner of the garage. Maybe it's a tall pile of letters and papers perched on the table next to your recliner or stacked in a hallway.
    It goes without saying that "stuff" sitting around the house can be a tripping hazard. Regular readers know I'm obsessed with preventing older adults like from falling and breaking a limb or a hip. For a young or middle-aged adult, a fall is unpleasant, of course, but unlikely to detour a life. For older adults, it almost always does.
    Add to that, all that "stuff" sits in the back of our minds as something we should deal with, and when we do not, it can become a nagging irritant. We have enough things to think about and remember. It is actually quite freeing to make a simple "should it stay or should it go" decision about an old letter or a piece of paper. It opens up brain space. And it gives one a feeling of accomplishment and control to go through a box of old papers and put a few in the appropriate file and the remainder in the recycle bin. At least it does for me.
    Here's the reality. Our homes are likely to be our default living environments for the future. For most of us, that's exactly what we want. Making our homes pleasant and safe — "friendlier" — environments in which to live meets the test of common sense.
    Even if your preference is to move out of any current in-home clutter and into an assisted-living environment — or perhaps across the country to live with your daughter — you will still have to deal with all that stuff. So my recommendation is start now. Tackle one box or bag or drawer (or nightstand pile) at a time. Do it with a friend, neighbor or family member. Make it an event. Serve snacks.
    A website my husband and I have developed as we launch our new nonprofit organization, Age-Friendly Innovators Inc., www.agefriendlyinnovators.org, has some additional ideas. Or check out our blog www.mailtribune.com/agefriendly
    I will share one more recommendation because it fits nicely into what I was just encouraging. And at this point, some of you, will say, "OK, here she goes again."
    Get rid of "throw" rugs, especially in the bathroom. Maybe keep your favorite one and put a gripper back on it. But take the name "throw" seriously. Like in "away."
    Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.
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