How to Help an Elderly Loved One with Spring Cleaning
Spring is in the air and that means that it's time for some Spring Cleaning! Spring is the perfect time to swap out your winter wardrobe, get rid of piles and boxes from your home or garage and clean up the house; but caring for your home takes a great deal of time and elbow grease, which can become unmanageable for our aging loved ones.
As a caregiver, this is a great time to take notice of your loved ones living conditions. Are they living in a clean and safe environment? Is there excess clutter that could be hazardous to their mobility? Or maybe you're just trying to help them let go of old things because there's simply too much stuff! Many of our older family members have boxes or even rooms filled with memories they simply cannot let go of but urging them to tackle this process little by little, perhaps a box here or there, is a great way to eventually make sense of it all.
Here are some spring cleaning tips that will help you get the job done:
Make a checklist:
First things first! Write down everything you and the loved one you care for would like to get done. Weather it be washing the windows, cleaning out the refrigerator, sorting out summer clothes, or going through the garage - a list will help you organize and plan. Discuss with your loved one what task is most important and make that first on your to-do list... then, get started!
Organization is key. Having things within arms reach cuts down the rick of injury. Take a step back and look at how things are placed around the house, as someone gets older you might need to re-think the way their kitchen or the closet is set up. Make sure important paperwork, kitchen utensils, food in the refrigerator, their bedroom and bathrooms are set up for easy access, that way seniors are less likely to have trouble with the things they use most. Having things effortlessly at-hand makes daily tasks much easier.
Cleanliness & Hygiene:
The first sign of a senior not being able to live on their own is the way they take care of themselves and their living space. If you walk into a loved ones home and their space seems to be poorly maintained, it might be a sign of self-neglect and social withdrawal. A clean living environment as well as good personal hygiene is crucial to a seniors health. Make sure your loved one is bathing regularly, wearing clean clothes, and generally maintaining themselves properly. If you find signs that they are no longer capable of performing these daily tasks, it might be time to look into getting them an assisted nurse or placing them into an assisted living physicality. (If your loved one lives alone and could use some extra care, consider hiring a professional caregiving assistant to help around the house. If you need help finding someone, A Place For Mom has more information. Click here)
Recruit a team:
The more the merrier. A day of spring cleaning doesn't have to be boring, make it a social event! If there are grandchildren, siblings, or even active friends, ask a few of them to come by and spend some time helping out. Socializing with friends and family is extremely important for seniors.
Clear the clutter - keep the best and throw out the rest!
Getting rid of life-long possessions isn't easy for anyone, but when too much "stuff" accumulates in a home it creates clutter, and clutter creates an unsafe, unsanitary, possibly hazardous, living space for our elderly loved one. For many seniors, it isn't easy to convince them to go through their collections. A lot of items found in their homes act as a trigger to a certain memory or special someone they might have lost. So help them understand that you're not trying to throw away their memories. Help come up with good reasoning to keep the best and throw out the rest. A good tip - remind them that they need to create space for their grandchildren's school portraits and artwork! Use A Senior Home's Clutter Zones to help spot clutter creep!
Keep your elderly loved one involved:
No one likes feeling useless, so keep your loved one engaged no matter what their limitations are. If your senior family member has trouble getting around, have them sit and go through paperwork or polish silverware while your family takes care of the heavy lifting.
Make sure your loved ones home is a safe place for them to live. Check all emergency devices and make sure fire/carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries. Make sure their emergency response system is easily accessible as well as a telephone with programmed numbers incase they need to call for help. Check medications. Make sure no pills are expired and that they are taking them regularly. A company called PillPack is a GREAT and easy way for seniors to keep track of their daily medication.
Spring cleaning can actually be fun and more importantly, it leaves people feeling like they have a fresh start and a safe home. Don't let seniors do it alone. Cleaning, climbing and trying to lift heavy objects, such as furniture can be a turn safety hazard. Here is a Home Safety Checklist to go through before leaving your loved ones home. Happy Cleaning!