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A Fresh Start for Seniors: Your Spring Cleaning To-Do List

User Category: General HealthOn: April 10, 2012

spring cleaning checklistFinally, springtime is knocking at our door! After winter, we’re ready to swing open the windows and let the fresh air flow in.Spring is a season of renewal. Symbolically, it’s when nature comes alive again: blooming flowers, cleansing rain showers, and of course… baby animals!Many of people grew up with a seasonal tradition: the spring-cleaning. It’s an annual reminder its time to clean house and de-clutter.Seniors Spring CleaningFor seniors, it’s a great way to shake the winter blues and reminisce. Many older adults are rejuvenated by the warming weather and sunshine.A cleanup confers health benefits as well: reducing symptoms of respiratory illness and risk for falling. A good cleaning is beneficial both physically and emotionally!You can help your senior spruce up the place by lifting heavy boxes, reaching high places, and offering motivation and moral support. With all the great energy going around this time of year, why not take the opportunity to help your elderly friend or family member and get some work done in the process?But where to start?  We’ve put together a list of important to-do’s to tackle when tidying up your senior’s home.This year make the tradition of Spring Cleaning about helping older adults aging-in-place at home and maintain their independence, safely!Your Spring Cleaning To-Do List:

  • Discard old medications – Clean out the medicine cabinet. Examine expiration dates for all medications, vitamins, and topical treatments. Toss anything that is expired. Also dispose of anything the person is not currently taking or prescriptions that have been exposed to sunlight and moisture. Be sure to not flush old meds down the toilet; instead throw them out with unappealing garbage like coffee grounds or cat litter.
  • Replace batteries – Make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home are in working order. Batteries in these devices should be replaced every six months. Use daylight savings as a built-in reminder to run a test and ensure they’re working. Is the home equipped with a fire extinguisher in case of emergency? Offer a brief tutorial to your senior on how to using the device. Keep the fire extinguisher in an obvious location that is easily accessible to friends, relatives, or neighbors.
  • Banish clutter – Remove objects that obstruct the flow of movement through the home such as boxes or unnecessary furniture. Configure outdoor furniture and remove hoses left stretched across the grass or patio. By removing clutter, you are significantly decreasing your senior’s risk of accidental fall. Keep in mind - spring showers can make outdoor surfaces slippery. Place non-slip mats on floors to help seniors avoid a fall if they plan on working or socializing on patios or decks. Secure all stairs, railings, carpets, and loose steps.  Taking steps towards prevention will make the chance of injury less possible.
  • Cleanse the kitchenSanitize the fridge. Wash the interior of with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water. Wipe down removable shelves and drawers. Vacuum or brush dust from the condenser coils to keep the system from overheating. Throw away expired food to keep away mold and pests that could make your loved one sick. Ask them to make it a habit to throw out old food once a week. Create an age-friendly kitchen: organize cabinets to make frequently-used items more accessible.
  • Let there be light! - Check lighting and replace any burned-out or dim bulbs. To save on energy costs, consider switching from traditional incandescent to compact fluorescent energy saver bulbs. These are available in most grocery or home repair stores.
  • Bust dust – Dust gathers in often overlooked places, but is capable of transmitting germs and mite which cause allergies and a host of other respiratory issues. Thoroughly clean off these area: ceiling fan, photographs and art on walls, blinds, vents, light bulbs.
  • Wash all bedding including the mattress pad – Bedding collects dead skin, sweat, and other bodily fluids. Wash away disease-causing germs regularly in warm water.
To successfully help the seniors in your life get their spring cleaning chores done get permission before making any changes. Home is a sacred place and most seniors are very attached to their spaces. Before beginning, discuss the list of chores that you think need to be done to make sure you are on the same page. Help your senior embrace the good – not the stress or anxiety-- that can come out of taking stock and cleaning out.If you live too far away or are too busy to assist, consider making arrangements to have someone else provide support.  Work with neighbors, other family members, or community volunteers to find someone who is strong, responsible, and able to help with some of the tasks.Cleaning is probably not your favorite activity, but look at the de-cluttering process as precious time to spend with your elderly friend or family member and chat about old times. It’ll freshen up your heart and your mind!

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