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Residents could use larger closets

December 6, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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I grew up in a house that had small closets circa 1900. They were approximately 40 inches wide and we learned to strategically hang and frequently rearrange their contents. We even used over-the-door racks to hold extra clothing. Nothing was left out to get soiled.

At this facility, I use a small, freestanding closet to store my clothes. Not everything that needs to be hung up can fit in there, and it still amazes me that nursing home planners give residents so little space for storage. Finding enough drawers or places to store belongings is therefore challenging. Even though my off-season clothing is at my sister's house, I still have a corner stacked with clear bins holding essentials and vacuum storage bags with extra garments.

The day after Thanksgiving my sister brought my heavier winter clothing. I told her I could not keep it all because the only place where the storage bags could fit was in plain sight. I really do not want this room to be too messy. So I have been trying to figure out how to dress warmly enough and keep my clothing at a minimum. For me, fleece and heavy jeans are the warmest and both can be folded or hung without wrinkling. They will be the mainstays of my winter wardrobe.

I have a couple of pairs of corduroy slacks, and the rest are in storage because there is no space for them. I only wear sweaters that can be machine washed and dried. There is no time or space for hand washing and laying them flat to dry. It is just impractical. That means I cannot wear chenille sweaters or cable knits. Thankfully, much of today's clothing is meant to be comfortable and can be cared for easily.

Though my closet is miniscule, it is newer and finished in a lighter shade which brightens the room. Despite its aesthetic appeal, I think both an engineer and a designer need to get with nursing home residents to see how closets and storage areas could be made more user-friendly. Then, maybe someday our possessions and clothing can all be stored neatly and out of site.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...