Spring Cleaning for Seniors
When we were kids, instead of an official “Spring Clean” I remember my mom picking a room and deep cleaning at least one room a month. I am talking about moving everything, furniture, drapes you name it! Some of you may have a similar routine as my mom; others may not recall the last time they washed the drapes. Either way, doing an annual Spring Cleaning for seniors can be incredibly helpful to more than just the curtains!
Consider starting with paperwork, but keep in mind that this can be a sensitive subject. Offer to lend a hand with the filing, so your parents see you as helpful and not nosey. When’s the last time you went through your parents filing cabinet or mail drawer? Sorting through mail and bills will not only get your parents organized but can also give you a better idea of where they are. While going through bills, give your parents credit cards a look over. Not with the intention of telling them what they can or can’t do with their money (remember they are your parents) but sometimes you’ll find unnecessary charges. Look out for unused magazine subscriptions, overdraft protection charges or even if your mom has signed up for a “program” that has large excessive monthly fees that can be straightened out.
Additionally, if they’re comfortable with it, go through their email inbox, unsubscribe them from junk mail and set up some fraud protection. There’s always a very small “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of email lists, and www.optoutprescreen.com can be used. If you’d like more information on senior scams to look out for, check out our blog post on the most common type of frauds.
Onto actual cleaning, I know deep cleaning is not for everyone, and it can feel like just one more thing that has been added to your to-do list. If this sounds like you, pick one spot in the home that needs some attention. For many of us that could be the bathroom vanity. Set a timer for 30 minutes and discard of all those half opened samples and clean out as many drawers as you can till the timer goes. Breaking up the time can be helpful, and it gives you something to celebrate at the end of the month. Setting a timer is also a great way to go about cleaning with some older adults who tend to hang onto things for too long. This way they won’t feel like you’re busting into their home and getting rid of all of their belongings. Work with them one room at a time. I found with people that do tend to hoard items saying things like “oh you can’t get rid of this though, remember the time…” for a few items can help them realize you’re not trying to get rid of everything- just straighten things up a bit.
On the other hand, if you’re like my mom and I and prefer just to put on some music and blast through cleaning here’s a list of deep cleaning chores that are good to get done yearly:
– Wipe down outside windows
– Wash curtains
– Clean appliances
– Wash Upholstery and carpets
– Clean vents and replace filters
– Clean Gutters
-Move the furniture
-Wash or dry clean all of your bedding down to the mattress
Along with going through the house to clean, check for any safety issues. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and put in new lightbulbs in any areas that may need more light. Go through your parent’s medicine cabinet and throw out any old medications or expired pills. Check the refrigerator and pantry as well for anything expired and look at how things are organized in the kitchen. If you know your mom reaches for a favorite mug every morning, make sure it’s not on a top shelf where it is difficult to reach. Keep fall prevention in the back of your mind as you are organizing the house.
Finally, while checking off your annual cleaning list, think about the last time your parents had a checkup. Even if they seem fit and healthy, getting a yearly exam is always a good idea. Getting their hearing and vision checked as well can help establish a baseline that can save you a lot of headache in the future.
Taking care of your home and your treasures is quickly becoming a lost art. I know this list can seem like a lot, but diving in and getting things done can make a big difference for you and your parents future. I have fond memories of my Gram sweeping her front porch and the steps leading up to the front door. She had flower boxes all around the door that she tended to each morning. Every mothers day I bought her a hanging fuschia plant to display throughout the summer. I always felt welcomed when I arrived at her home. I am so grateful for the women in my life who not only modeled this for me but took the time to teach me how to take care of things.