Let the sunshine in with these housekeeping tips
Now that the days are getting longer and spring flowers are basking in the warmer weather outdoors, it’s time to take a look at the inside of your senior loved one’s living space. The time-honored tradition of throwing open the doors and windows to welcome the springtime sun and the refreshing breezes is still important for all of us—especially for seniors who may need help tidying up after the long winter.
Spring is the season of new beginnings, so here are tips for teaming up with your favorite senior to declutter, reorganize, and tackle corner-to-corner cleaning of living spaces.
Make a to-do list. Consult with your senior loved one to prioritize the tasks to get done, and write them down. Along with vacuuming, sweeping, wiping and scrubbing, don’t forget to include chores related to possible health and safety hazards:
- Throw out expired medications and any that are no longer needed or prescribed.
- Discard expired packaged foods and refrigerated or frozen items that might look (and smell) past their prime.
- Test smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and other electronics (such as medical alert systems) used for health and safety monitoring. Replace batteries in needed.
- Remove clutter from outside walkways, and indoor entryways, stairs, and heavily traveled areas.
- Make sure all areas are adequately lit, and replace light bulbs if needed.
- Remove slippery throw rugs and any other tripping hazards (such as ottomans and low-to-the ground furniture) that might cause falls.
Set a date. Unless you mark your calendar, as you would for a doctor’s appointment or any other important commitment, the spring-cleaning session might become a good idea that never happens. Decide whether the job can be handled over one weekend, or might be best spread out over several weekends.
Enlist help from family and friends. After you set firms dates and times to get the job done, ask family member and trusted friends if they’re available to pitch in. Let people know that any amount time they can devote to the task will be appreciated! Consider asking strong, healthy folks to come at a designated time to move furniture and do heavy lifting.
Involve your senior. It’s their home, after all, so give your seniors input into the cleaning process. Depending on their health, stamina and capabilities, older adults may not be able to easily manage some spring-cleaning duties. But jobs such as organizing shoes and clothing (and deciding which items can be discarded, handed down, or donated) or sorting through books and knick-knacks are often not overly demanding, and can help ensure seniors know that their contribution is critical to the cleaning and decluttering process.