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.

Just In Time For Retirement

The older I get the more I accept the significance and gravity of the familiar adage “time flies”. From a day-by day perspective things feel about right – only occasionally does a 24 hour period slips through my fingers. Even looking back on the most recently passed week I feel I can account for the majority of moments passed. But the incredible speed at which years are now streaking by is a bit concerning. Here it is 2018 – where the heck did 2017 go?

In my early days it took forever to get to that next year older. How I wished I could accelerate into teen years and then jump to that magical 18 and finally pass the threshold of the sacred 21 years old. Time sure did not fly for me back then. These days I would be quite happy to decelerate to a slow, steady, memorable trickle of days going by.

It feels as if time runs at a different pace at different times in our lives.

Way back as a youngster, time was an insignificant component of daily life. I never worried about wasting time. I did what I wanted for as long as I wanted or until called in for dinner. Time mattered when it came to school, dinner time, popcorn time and bedtime. There was no need for a watch to keep me punctual. Because little stress was associated with being on time the day could be enjoyed wandering a bit, playing a bit more, and enjoying all along the way.

When I entered the work force things changed big time. Getting to work on time was essential if I hoped to keep my job. Being late to meetings was unacceptable and a tardy quarterly report could put you on the streets. Everything was on a schedule as I came to understand the true meaning of deadlines: basically get it done or you are dead.

Along with time pressures and deadlines comes the stress we all learn to cope with else sacrifice our health and sanity. Scurrying around madly in hopes of getting critical tasks completed on schedule introduced a constant level of anxiety – there just wasn’t enough time in the day. And that anxiety often followed you home, gnawing away at any chance for quality sleep and quick to re-enlist the minute you got up.

As a parent a new aspect of time emerges. While previously obsessed with one’s own time or lack thereof, as parents our time no longer belongs solely to us. Suddenly what is most important to others in our brood takes precedence. Scheduling becomes an order of magnitude more challenging with multiple lives involved. We surrender to the impossibility of being two places at once though often times find ourselves pulled and stretched in many directions. Where does the time go?

Is there any hope to slow down to a more acceptable, saner pace?

If you are fortunate enough to survive to this point mentally and physically intact, you may be in for better times, saner times, more reasonable times. Retirement time is a brand new experience and at least for me proved worth the wait.

Once retired you are no longer driven by external forces toward someone else’s ultimate end. Rather than struggling to survive the moment you can focus on living those moments. Instead of a flurry of vague scenes days begin to contain real content, filled with memories worthy of being remembered. Finally you have time for yourself.

Rather than worry about tomorrow you are free to concentrate on today. This moment – now – is what matters. You will never be right here again so make the most of right now. As the saying goes, “life is like a coin: you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once.”

It can take time to adjust to a new pace. Even six years retired I still find myself getting wound up when driving in traffic. Decades in Silicon Valley left me conditioned to rush hour traffic and the helpless panic felt arriving late for an appointment.  I still fight that reflex to push and get there as quickly as possible. Now I have time. Now I can go with the flow and get there when I do. But old habits die hard.

In retirement, you have time to focus attention on important little things. A thoughtful card given to a spouse, ample time to reflect upon your life and passions, relaxing wanderings in the park with nothing hanging over your head, a call to family of friends too long neglected. Now you have time to do something nice for someone. Now you have time to do something nice for you.

It is interesting as you focus on the quality of the moments rather than respond to in a knee-jerk fashion to outside stimuli you may face other challenges. For example, instead of wondering what time it is I sometimes find myself wondering what day it is. I joke with friends “I’m happy if I can keep the month straight!” How wonderful is it to not worry about approaching deadlines or responsibilities, to live the day as it unrolls before you, to go with the flow and wander wherever.

Yes time does fly. And yes it seems to do so even faster these days. But it is not just about the length of the day, it’s what you do with that day. Time may scamper quickly by. But memories we make are forever alive in our minds. Make the most of your hours.


5 Helpful Tools for Hearing Loss

Written by Nurse Susan

If you’re a senior coping with hearing loss, you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 25% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, with that number growing to 50% of adults 75 and older. While advancements in technology have developed hearing aids that are smaller, sleeker, and more efficient, they aren’t necessarily the absolute fix many seniors are looking for and they can often be expensive and require more maintenance than you might expect. Support your hearing with additional helpful tools including:

Phone Amplifiers

Talking on the phone can pose a serious challenge for someone with hearing loss, from fuzzy connections to poor volume quality. Staying connected and maintaining regular communication with friends and family is key, however, to senior health outcomes. A phone speaker amplifier helps to solve this problem by offering an easy and portable way for seniors to ramp up the volume of the person they are speaking to on the phone. Some amplifiers also generate a digital text transcription of your ongoing conversation and let you adjust tones for even greater sound quality.

Live Video Chat

What’s even better than chatting over the phone? Chatting via live video feed with a friend or family member where you can both hear and see them (and read their lips). Free, online services like Skype and Google+ Hangout offer you the ability to call your friends and loved ones over WiFi from your computer or digital devices, as do apps for smartphones and tablets like Facetime (iOS/Apple products only).

Helpful Hearing Apps

If you need a little extra help with recognizing sounds around you, there are loads of apps you can download to your digital device to assist you. Apps like Braci Smart Ear, My Ear Droid, Tap Tap and Otosense use sound recognition software to detect sounds around you (phone call, doorbell, smoke alarm, etc) and alert you with visual and vibrating aids on your smartphone. A different app called BioAid enhances sound clarity and adjusts ambient noise volume through the microphone on your smartphone, delivering clearer sound real-time to you through headphones.

Voicemail to Text Services

Voicemails are notoriously hard to hear, especially if the person who left them was standing in a crowded or loud environment when they did. Save yourself the trouble of trying to make out their every word by using voice-to-text tools. You may have already received an offer for a voicemail-to-text subscription from your phone provider, however, there are apps like VoxSciences that facilitate this helpful service too. When someone leaves you a voicemail, these tools transcribe it into text which is either messaged to you on your smartphone or sent via email.

Sound Box

Just as you can amplify the sound from your own phone, so can you do the same thing for your TV. With a portable sound box, you can wirelessly amplify the sound from your TV wherever you are – in your bedroom, in the living room, etc. You no longer have to worry about turning up the TV volume so high that it bothers the people watching with you. Simply set your sound box down beside you and count on a louder, clearer-sounding experience.

So where can you find these assistive hearing gadgets and gizmos? Look online, at your local pharmacy, or even in big box stores like Walmart or Target. And for apps, simply visit the app store on your smartphone or tablet (iTunes App store for Apple users, Google Play store for Android users) – or ask your kids or grandkids to help you!