Clutter is Hazardous to Health

We like our stuff.  When we run out of room for it in our attics, basements, and garages, we rent more storage.

The impulse to accumulate things may be a genetic leftover from the days of our ancestors, when survival depended on having enough food to get through lean times and the necessity of making everything—weapons, clothing –by one’s self. When shopping for a new winter coat involves hunting down a mammoth, you ‘re probably more inclined to hang on to it for a while.

The problems begin when our stuff gets out of hand and turns into clutter. Clutter does more than take up space; it affects our health.

Clutter is linked to stress, weight gain, and affects our ability to focus and process information. It has indirect effects on health as well—you’re not likely to go for a run if you can’t find your running shoes. At its worst, clutter can turn into hoarding–the accumulation of so much stuff that it prevents people from living normal, healthy lives.

Clutter can be a special issue for seniors.  Health issues or even the simple process of aging may make it harder for them to keep the house as neat and organized as they once did. They may trip over objects on the floor or have trouble negotiating a room crowded with too many things, leading to dangerous falls. Declining eyesight may make it more difficult to see potential obstacles, or find essential items like eyeglasses or medication. Blocked electrical outlets, exits, and piles of flammable material represent a fire hazard. Loneliness may make some seniors more prone to buying things they don’t need to compensate for the lack of companionship, leading to more clutter.

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