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How to Help the Elderly with Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air and that means that it’s time for some Spring Cleaning! This 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 a home takes a great deal of time and elbow grease, which can become unmanageable for our aging loved ones.

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. Whether it is washing the windows, cleaning out the refrigerator of expired items, sorting out summer clothes, filing important documents or going through the garage, giving the garden a make-over – a list will help you organise and plan. Discuss with your loved one what task is most important and make that first on your to-do list… then, get started!

Recruit a team:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 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. Socialising with friends and family is extremely important for seniors. Depending on how much you have to do, you may want to break up the cleaning into a few weekends, or you could do it all in one day. Regardless of how you break it up, developing an efficient schedule that everyone is on board with can make the process a lot easier.

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 work.

Organise:

Organisation is key. Having things within arms-reach cuts down the risk 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, bathroom or wardrobe is set up for easy access.  Address the areas that appear to be the most problematic first, whether it’s a cluttered bedroom or an unpaid pile of bills. Having things effortlessly at hand makes daily tasks much easier.

Clear the clutter – keep the best and throw out the rest!

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!

When too much “stuff” accumulates in a home it creates clutter, and clutter creates an unsafe, unsanitary, possibly hazardous, living space for our elderly. Spring cleaning doesn’t mean you just need to clean.

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!

Safety:

Make sure your loved one’s home is a safe place for them to live. Check all emergency devices and make sure fire detectors have fresh batteries. Make sure their emergency response system is easily accessible as well as a telephone with programmed numbers in case they need to call for help. Check medications. Make sure no pills are expired and that they are taking them regularly. Your regular pharmacy can arrange pill packs and this 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 safety hazard.

Happy Cleaning!

Check out Over & Above’s listing here on Eldernet!

About Margaret Engelander

Margaret Engelander
Having engaged in a Bachelor of Management, Project Management Diploma a qualified Change Management Practitioner and a member of the Australian Association of Professional Organisers (AAPO), I am passionate about turning environments from chaos into calm. In my corporate life, I was known to be efficient organising people, processes, projects and spaces. As a “baby boomer”, friends and my family were faced with the challenges associated with our elderly parents still at home, with years of possessions which none of us knew what to do with! My involvement as a volunteer with Age Concern also highlighted a need to assist our elderly seniors with decluttering, sorting and downsizing their possessions which led to presenting to local groups with tips and ideas.

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