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.


Are You a Caregiver Seeking Peace of Mind? These Tools Can Help

Written by Nurse Susan

Are you a retired adult helping to care for an aging parent or sick spouse? You’re not alone. In fact, the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that of the over 40 million adults in the U.S. currently providing care for a family member, 34% are over the age of 65. Family caregivers take on responsibilities including providing transportation to appointments, refilling prescriptions, even administering medicine and helping with bathing, dressing, and toileting.

If you provide care for an aging parent or sick spouse, check out these helpful tools that may help bring you and your loved one peace of mind:

Medical Alert System

Have you considered installing a medical alert system in the home of the person for whom you care? Depending on their age and health condition, your loved one’s care needs can vary. If they have experienced any of the following in the past year, however, a medical alert system may be a helpful investment.

  • Frequent dizziness
  • Stumbling or falling (even if they didn’t injure themselves)
  • Medicine side effects like low blood pressure or drowsiness
  • Difficult walking or standing without assistance
  • Hospitalization (or a trip to the E.R.)
  • One or more chronic conditions (i.e. arthritis, diabetes, dementia)

Medical alert systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from free-standing machines that sit on a countertop or desk, to wearable pendants you take with you on the go. As a caregiver, you can always be ready to take quick action to help your loved one in the event of an emergency when they have access to a system that signals for help at the press of a button.

Digital “Baby Monitor”

Technological innovation has made keeping an eye on your loved one easier than ever. Digital monitors which are traditionally used in nurseries to keep an eye (and ear) on infants can also be repurposed for your loved one. While on the pricier end, these devices allow you to set up a camera in your loved one’s room which streams a live video feed for you on your smartphone or other mobile device.

Some monitors even let you move the camera around and up and down as well as speak through the device to your loved one or play music. Check in on them when you are out running errands or right before bed to make sure they are sleeping.

Social Media

This may not seem like a “tool” but you would be surprised all the resources and help you can find simply be connecting with other caregivers and organizations online. Private Facebook groups like Caregiver Collective and Caregiver Hub Support Group allow caregivers to share their stories, frustrations, and questions with each other in a judgment-free zone. And following groups like the National Council on Aging and the Family Caregiver Alliance on facebook and twitter keeps you up-to-date on resources, policy changes, and events which may benefit your loved one’s care. Getting on social media is free and with advanced privacy settings you can easily control who you engage with.

Fall Mats

While you can take extra measures to prevent falls in your loved one’s home, the fact is if they are elderly, and especially if they have motor impairment like you find with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, they are at a high risk for experiencing a fall. Many falls lead to serious injury in older adults, including hospitalization and life-threatening bone fractures or head trauma. In the event of a fall, you want to do everything possible to mitigate the severity of their impact with the ground.

Fall mats provide a helpful solution here, adding padding to the floor of commonly used areas like by the couch in the living room or by the bed in the bedroom. In addition to cushioning the blow of a fall, some fall mats are also designed to alert caregivers when they pick up on an impact like a person falling.

Knowing your loved one is safe and well whether you are present with them or not will always help to ease up on the stress and anxiety a caregiver naturally experiences. Simple tools like digital video monitors and fall mats can go a long way in providing peace of mind and a happier overall care experience.