By Patricia Harrington
Waste is all around us; you can see it just about everywhere you look, whether it be garbage that’s going to be tossed out or that ‘stuff’ we just don’t want to part with. An accumulation of waste can be a risk to aging well. To be at our best level of health and safety we need to rid ourselves of excess waste. I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking, ‘excess’ is in the eye of the beholder, but realistically, if you have not used something in a year and you have no plans on using it in the foreseeable future; do you really need it cluttering your space? I know there are lots of people who say, ‘I might need that someday’ and if they have a garage or storage space that allows them to keep that type of stuff and it is kicking around under foot, they might get away with that. I know in my home we save lots of stuff because we’ve found time and again that we do indeed use that extra piece of whatever to make repairs around our, or someone else’s, home.
When people do get better organized they feel a sense of ‘letting go’ of clutter which then tends to result in an improved emotional state. Just like when you de-clutter your mind and give your thoughts room to ‘breathe’, when you de-clutter your space you can feel healthier too. It is a process that we have to get to, and once we go through that process the overwhelming feeling of dread in having to tackle it all is gone and our muddled thoughts become clear – we feel livelier and tend to be safer because of it. The digestive system is another example of a part of us that we need to be sure is working well and properly ridding our body of waste. When our digestive system is sluggish it can lead to our bowels not working well too, and that makes us distressed. Call it what you will, but simply put, pooping well is a very important part of health and there are a number of things people need to do to ensure that the bowels are able to do their job well. The human body needs to have water, water, water, fibre, fibre, fibre, exercise, exercise, exercise and relaxation – yes, these things are just that important. Stress can bring on a number of problems and yes, constipation can be one of them. When we do not get enough water into our system and we are eating too much processed food, we can have bowel problems.
On the other hand, when our digestive system is working well, it is very efficient and carries out an organized sorting process. A healthy digestive system knows what to keep to help our bodies - like where to send all the good nutrients - and it knows to get rid of the stuff it doesn’t need – the waste. Like good digestion, we also need to know what to keep that helps us and what to get rid of, that it is bogging us down. Our minds and bodies get slowed down, just like our bowels, if we do not keep what is good for us, around us.
Believe it or not it has been shown that when we de-clutter and organize our living space our bodies react in a more positive way. Some health benefits include better blood flow, less body soreness and an improved ability to fight diseases. All the health benefits of de-cluttering our lives can help us fight against chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and depression. When we are able to think clearly and more efficiently, our energy lasts longer and our health profits from it.
Now that warmer weather is finally here it is a good time to start purging unused items. Maybe someone else can benefit from our unneeded treasures. If you need some help in getting your house back in order, ask family or friends to help; perhaps there are people who can assist or who might pick up donations to various people or non-profit organizations - don’t hesitate to ask for help, or to offer help to others who might need a hand. Helping others brings joy. There are also companies you can hire to help with heavy cleaning, and other services that can offer this type of assistance; check out the Yellow Pages in the phone book, under Garbage Collection.
It’s time to say good riddance to waste, once and for all.
Patricia Harrington is executive director at Westford Nursing Home in Port Elgin. She believes it is important to share information on everyday concerns as we age and enjoys promoting these important aspects that will help our older population in aging well. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 506-538-1301.