The days are getting longer and flowers are in bloom. It’s time to take a look at the inside of your 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. It is also a good time to take a look at the condition and safety of their home.
Here are tips to declutter, reorganize, and ensure the safety of your loved one’s home. Remember, safety should be a priority as your loved one ages at home.
Where to Start?
First, 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.
- Throw away expired packaged foods, refrigerated or frozen items
- Test smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and other electronics (such as medical alert systems) used for health and safety monitoring. Replace batteries.
- Remove clutter from outside walkways, and indoor entryways, stairs, and heavily traveled areas. Clutter is a big fall hazard.
- 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. Be careful moving heavier furniture, seniors should never help moving furniture.
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.
Ask family members and trusted friends for help. 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 the heavy lifting.
Involve your senior. It’s their home, after all, so give your senior input into the cleaning process. Depending on their health, 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 can help ensure seniors know that their contribution is critical to the cleaning and decluttering process.