Housework can be challenging for older adults with mobility issues, especially those living alone. Some seniors just give up on housework. However, I would strongly recommend against it, since living in an unkempt environment can lead to health and safety hazards.
A thoroughly cleaned, well-maintained environment promotes a feeling of safety, comfort, and enjoyment. Effective housekeeping can help control or eliminate many health hazards. Good housekeeping is not just about cleanliness. It includes keeping living spaces neat and orderly, maintaining rooms free of slip and trip hazards, and removing of waste as well as other fire hazards.
Here's why you shouldn't let housekeeping duties go by the wayside.
Research shows that people who live in well-kept, uncluttered homes are healthier than those who were not quite so diligent with their household chores. A messy home also hurts focus and productivity, and can lead to social isolation. The researchers found positive associations between routine housework and increased brain fitness in older adults. Performing routine household chores like gardening, vacuuming, laundry, and dishes had positive associations with both brain volume and cognition in older adults.
If your living space isn't cleaned regularly, floors and surfaces wiped and vacuumed, and bed sheets washed and changed, then you are at much higher risk for allergies, asthma, and other skin and respiratory ailments. Dust mites feed on dead skin and multiply rapidly. They live in your clothes, bedding, upholstery, carpets, and anywhere else dead skin cells can be found.
Food waste, rotting garbage and uncleaned dishes can attract a range of pests. Pests can bite and also cause infections. Doing the dishes, keeping kitchen surfaces clean and taking out the garbage regularly help keep pests at bay. Don't forget to keep the fridge clean, and throw out any stale or out of date food.
Humid uncleaned areas can attract mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can appear in the basement, under the kitchen sink, and in the laundry room too. Mold can also grow on out of date food in the cupboard, and stale food in the fridge. They can cause infections and aggravate conditions like asthma. Unchanged or clogged HVAC filters can contribute to bad air quality in your house which can give rise to various health issues.
Long periods of living in an uncleaned unhealthy environment can result in a variety of health conditions that can have serious long term effects. Before things get out of hand, if possible, it would be a good idea to ask for, or hire help to deal with daily chores.
These are just some of the things we can do to keep our living spaces clean and safe. I can imagine how challenging it can be to maintain a clean and healthy environment at home, especially if you live on your own. At in4MED, we can make this easier by providing you with information and resources, connecting you to local support systems and being there for you as your trusted health advocates. As always, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.