It’s that time of year again, get ready for warmer weather, longer days, and of course, spring cleaning!
This is the time for organizing and decluttering, for fixing up and cleaning out. Even though it’s important for everyone to tidy up during spring cleaning, it’s absolutely essential for seniors. Having lived for a long time, they’re bound to have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. Sometimes, it can be hard for seniors to spring clean because it can be hard to let go of belongings with sentimental value. Also, it can be challenging for seniors to clean out their entire home alone.
With that in mind, here are 7 tips for spring cleaning with seniors and families:
1. Evaluate the living conditions
While visiting, it’s important to take a look at your parent’s living conditions and make sure they’re doing alright (without invading their privacy). Check all the smoke and CO2 detectors and make sure they’re still working. Also, if they have a Life Alert or another medical alert system be sure to check that too. Additionally, make sure all of the locks still work, and make sure there aren’t any fall-hazards lying around, like a loose floorboard or an open extension cord. It’s also a good idea to go through the medicine cabinet and clean out any expired medications.
Communication is key. It’s important for your parent to know that they still have control of their life. If you’re going to make a plan for organizing, let them in on it and ask for their input. If you’re going to clean out their medicine cabinet, let them know about it and ask them to help you. While decluttering the house, communicating with your parent about their belongings is essential. Even if they no longer need or use it, it can be extremely difficult to get rid of something that may hold a lot of memories, especially if your parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia or has hoarding tendencies. Just simply sitting down and talking it out could make a world of difference.
3. Make donations
Making a plan to get rid of anything that’s no longer needed is a healthy way to approach spring cleaning. However, if you happen to find something that your parent no longer uses, but you don’t want to throw it away, donating the item to a local charity is always a good option. Say you find an old vase in a storage box. The vase hasn’t seen the light of day in 5 years, but it’s still in good condition and it’d be a waste to throw it out. The best thing to do is to find a place to donate it to a local charity, so at least someone can get a good use out of it.
4. Make a checklist
Another great spring cleaning strategy is to create a checklist of everything that needs to be done. A checklist is a great tool to have because it reminds you to clean areas that you would normally forget about such as closets that need to be emptied out or stains that need to be removed. Plus, it’s really satisfying to check off everything on a checklist. If you need ideas, you can find a checklist online or you can create your own. It’s up to you!
5. Be sure to clean places that are overlooked
There’s a lot of places throughout the house that hardly ever get cleaned because no one ever really thinks about them. The walls behind large pieces of furniture, inside the trash can, the ice-maker in the fridge, even just little things like remote controls or a light switch are spots in the house that usually get ignored, even though it’s still important to clean them. Try taking note of these spots and adding them to a checklist because there’s no better time to clean them then during spring cleaning!
Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to rearrange the house. Reorganizing one’s surroundings not only has health benefits, but it’s also good for your parent to have a change in scenery. Even a little change can be refreshing, like rearranging the furniture in the living room or reordering the wall decor. It’s also a good idea to reorganize items that won’t be used for a long time, like Christmas decorations or family heirlooms to make more important items more accessible to your parent. Make sure to talk with your parent about reorganizing anything and get their opinion on the best way to do it.
7. Have fun with it!
If you have any children or siblings invite them to come with you so your parent can see the whole family! If you’re decluttering, take the opportunity to look through everything your parent kept and revisit old memories. You could also make a game out of organizing or cleaning or you could ask your parent to tell you some stories. Don’t just visit your parent’s home to clean out all of their things, make an event out of it!