Written by Nurse Susan
Looking forward to your annual spring cleaning extravaganza? Many seniors find themselves taking advantage of the spring cleaning tradition as a way to downsize, get organized, and prioritize health and safety. Don’t miss these 6 smart spring-cleaning tips for seniors:
Plan Out Your Project
How often have you started a spring cleaning project like “reorganizing the garage” only to find yourself knee deep in mountains of stuff and totally out of time? When it comes to taking on sweeping projects like spring cleaning, make a plan before you start sorting through anything.
Experts recommend tackling one room at a time and being purposeful about how stuff is sorted and organized. For example, go ahead and get three large bags ready so you can easily place items you no longer want either to be donated/given away, thrown out, or recycled. Make a To-Do list so you understand the scope of what you’re wanting to do and can attack it in the most efficient way.
Recruit Friends and Family
For seniors especially, the heavy lifting and strenuous activity spring cleaning calls for can be dangerous to your health and safety. If you have an intensive project planned like removing large pieces of furniture or even just re-organizing your living area, make sure to recruit help. Be it friends, family, or simply a neighborhood teen who can help, the extra manpower is sure to both speed up your spring cleaning job as well as prevent unnecessary injuries.
While fall prevention may always be on your radar as a senior, are you really doing much about it? Spring cleaning can paved the way for decluttering your living environment, which is an effective step in helping prevent falls. Where possible you’ll want to remove large furniture in common walkways and take care of trip hazards, i.e. nail down curled up carpet corners and bundle messy cords.
If you or a loved one whom you live with has experienced frequent falls, spring cleaning will also be a great time to lay down a fall mat or floor mat alarm in precarious areas, like by beds and sofas (where a lot of standing and sitting happens). Fall mats with alarms help to both cushion a fall and prevent serious injury as well as alert caregivers.
Assess Outdoor Walkways
Speaking of fall prevention, as warmer spring weather beckons you outdoors, you’ll want to make sure that outdoor walkways are not posing any danger to your stability. This includes porch and deck railings, wheelchair ramps, sidewalks, driveways, even garden paths. Everything from an unstable handhold or a sidewalk covered in uneven cracks, to a ramp that is slick from a brutal winter can be a recipe for disaster.
Remember Your Medicine Cabinet
As you’re going room to room cleaning and organizing, don’t forget about the often overlooked medicine cabinet. Do you have leftover prescriptions you no longer use? Are any of your over-the-counter medicines expired?
It’s important for seniors especially to take extra care when sorting and storing medicines to prevent accidentally switching or missing doses. The FDA helpfully provides insight into medicine disposal guidelines and drug buyback programs. Don’t forget that old prescriptions have lots of personal information on them so you want to remove the labels or scratch out personal information on them prior to disposing of or recycling them.
Check Off Emergency Items
In addition to downsizing the amount of “stuff” you have in the house, you’ll want to make sure all your emergency and fire safety measures are in good and working order.
- Program emergency contact numbers and Medical ID information into your smartphone (or an easily accessible list in your home)
- Double check that your fire extinguisher is charged and not expired
- Test smoke and CO2 alarms for live, active batteries
- Compile an up-to-date list of any medicines (prescriptions and over-the-counter) which you take regularly
- Make sure your first aid kit is stocked and build an accompanying kit of water bottles, a blanket, flashlight with
- batteries, back-ups of commonly taken medicines, non-perishable snacks, etc.
And finally, try not to overdo it! You might feel like you’re on a roll moving from room to room and cleaning like a machine. All the bending, stooping, reaching, and lifting, however, can take their toll on your joints and muscles. You don’t want to be so stiff and sore in the following days that you have trouble going about your day-to-day tasks.