6 Smart Spring Cleaning Tips for Seniors

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.

A Christmas Wish

2010 has been a difficult year for many with financial turmoil, employment challenges, natural disasters, and our own personal events that we have all had to deal with. And as is applicable to this retirement blog, we have all gotten one year older for better or worse! There are many of us who will only too happily look at 2010 in their rear view mirror, glad to take a chance on what 2011 will have to offer.

Looking back over my first year blogging, I would say my journey has been educational, interesting, sometimes frustrating, inspirational, challenging, and overall a very positive experience. I have met some wonderful people and discovered a bunch of helpful and interesting blogs focusing on retirement and planning for retirement. I have scratched the surface of social media with its amazing ability to foster communication and inspire interaction. And I hope I have shared useful information and brought a smile to a face or two on occasion.

I want to share a few thoughts as we prepare to exit another year, just some bits and pieces, odds and ends, a little of this and that.

  • I have learned that retirement is a journey not a destination – it is up to each of us to live the best most satisfying life that we can all along the way. Retirement does not begin on a specific date but is a state of mind, a preparation and planning, a way of life.
  • Health is fleeting so do not take for granted one single day. Our physical and mental state can change in an instant so do not overlook what we have today. And true appreciation means getting up off the couch and experiencing the world around us.
  • Accepting Aging is an important piece to the retirement puzzle. As we get older, we can expect changes galore and unfortunately not all positive. But it is part of the journey and we are not making it alone. Just ask 75 million baby boomers who are on the same train with us!
  • It is not all about money – we need enough money to live comfortably, safely, without fear and able to pay our bills. We do not need a fortune to be happy. And the real cost of building a fortune is lost time with those we love, stress and no time to spend taking care of ourselves. Enough is enough.
  • Retirement is our time to do what we want to do – whatever that may be. For some it will be working in some way for others it will be as far from work as possible. But whatever it is, if we are doing what we want to do, it is a good thing.
  • We must take the initiative to stay busy, active and engaged in retirement – physically and mentally, we need to get out there. The options are MANY but it is up to each of us to step up to the plate.
  • Fight the fight – each day I ask God to give me the strength to deal with whatever the world will throw my way.
  • We can never love friends and family too much – but we can keep trying.

Congratulations to us all for having survived 2010.

Have a Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year.


Senior Citizens Debate Renovation vs Relocation

For many senior citizens, the dream has been upon retirement to move away from their current digs and relocate to that retirement Shangri La where they will happily live out the rest of their lives. With no job or child raising responsibilities to tie seniors to any specific locale, we wistfully imagine a life beyond the snow and away from the traffic and mayhem that we have had to deal with. This is our chance to escape from what is into what can be.

But moving and relocating is a big endeavor and not something to be undertaken lightly. Before senior citizens can move, you need to sell your current home and ideally get what it is worth – no guarantee of that these days. In “Renovate, not relocate, is new trend for baby boomers” (I wish I had thought of that title first!) a realtor notes that declining prices in suburbs “appears to be keeping a lot of aging boomers from selling and moving to something befitting their changed lifestyle.”

Then you have to find that perfect place to relocate to but there is no guarantee that your vision of what life will be like at your new destination will in fact be reality. The only way to know what your new life will be is to live it and by that time, you are kinda committed.

And finally, with a move retirees leave behind friends and family that you know and love, hoping to re-establish quality relationships in your new neighborhood but again, no guarantee.

What if instead of moving from your familiar neighborhood and friends and coffee shops and restaurants where everybody knows your name you instead make some changes, some renovations to your current domicile? If you were to implement the improvements that you may have considered over the years, would you be happy where you are? Maybe where you live today can with some changes morph into that Shangri La you envision.

What would you change?

If you choose to go down the path of renovation instead of relocation, you are in luck. This time you get to do what you WANT to do! You don’t have to evaluate each and every potential improvement in terms of how it will impact your resale value – you are not worried about selling. The focus instead is on creating the perfect surroundings for your retirement years so you can go for it. With that in mind, what renovations would you most likely go for?

Universal Design considerations – this is a house built for a retirement couple so any changes you make should include elements that will allow you to retire in place for as long as possible. Little things like lower counters, fewer steps, easy-to-open door handles, and in general well thought out architectural design that facilitates the needs of senior citizens. You will not regret for site here.

Game room – I have always had an issue with the garage. In general, we are talking about the biggest room in the house, probably 400 square feet for a standard two-car configuration. There is SO MUCH we could do with that room if we did not need to park cars there. And in our retirement, the likelihood is that we will share a single car so there is even more wasted space.

So in my retirement Shangri La, the garage becomes the pool room! A nice pool table centrally located with enough space to shoot any shot that comes along during the course of the game. I would also have a dart board off to one side and maybe even a foosball table for those so inclined. A quick bit of insulation for cold nights, some dry walling, a dash of paint, some carpeting on the floor is you want and there you have it. There will be never a dull moment with your spacious entertainment room always ready for action.

Bathroom – have you always wanted a big tub to crawl into at the end of the day, a few candles sputtering on the counter top, with a nice glass of zinfandel in your hand? Options are many for tubs and jacuzzi and shower appliances and you-name-it so spend some time searching and find exactly what you are looking for. If you cannot afford to bring out the big guns and add a Jacuzzi tub, look into refinishing your existing tub and/or shower. Without spending too much, you can have a good-as-new hideaway. Remember, this is the house you are retiring to so don’t be conservative if you want a splash or red or yellow or even pink – just do it! And may I recommend nice plastic wine glasses to cap the experience.

Kitchen – if you like to cook, there are many choices for kitchen improvements from gourmet stoves to super-efficient dishwashers to unending options in the small appliance arena. Kitchen remodeling can be an expensive undertaking but you can definitely improve the workability of your cooking space with various gadgets, helpful devices and thoughtful arrangements. Investigate the kitchen supply areas in your major stores or if you want to step up, Sur La Table or William Sonoma will not do you wrong. And remember that convenience, ease of use and ease of cleaning will become more important over the years so plan ahead.

Some just-plain-cool extras

  • Heated tiles on the kitchen floor welcome your bare feet
  • “Touch lamps” that are turned on by tapping any part of the lamp rather than searching for the on/off switch
  • Heated towel racks in the bathroom are nice touch
  • Remote control fire places that with the press of a button “fire-up” and allow you to adjust the temperature as well as fan speed to quickly heat any room
  • Did you know that they actually make heated toilet seats these days!

The attraction of moving to a small beach community for your retirement home may be what ultimately sends you on your way. Something new can be exciting although a bit risky, so you need to weigh your personal desires and those of your spouse and make the best decision. Cost, weather, distance from family, local amenities, and a host of other variables need to be considered. But I believe it does provide some small peace of mind when you have options. To move or not to move, that is the question. And each of us will need to answer according to our individual tastes, loves, desires, and budget.