As winter gives way to warmer weather, you might start to feel it in the air – the first hint of spring…cleaning! Spring cleaning is all about making the home tidier and less cluttered, but for a senior it’s also about safety. Every year, 3 million seniors in the U.S. are treated for injuries sustained from falling. That risk can be reduced through a good, deep spring clean as well as ongoing tidiness efforts. Cleaning can become more difficult as we age, making it tough to maintain a clean and safe home. So, if a senior in your life reaches out for help with spring cleaning, it’s time to grab some cleaning supplies!
But before you get started, it’s important to note that cleaning and organizing can be stressful for seniors due to their connection with their home and their belongings. Have an honest conversation about which household chores your senior loved one feels confident in completing on their own, and which cleaning tasks they could use your help with.
Ready to begin? Here are five spring cleaning tips for seniors to help you get started!
5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Seniors
When it comes to spring cleaning, it’s important to recognize that not everything needs to be cleaned on a deep level; and those that do likely only need a deep clean once in a while. Here are a few tips to help make spring cleaning for seniors simple and achievable!
1. Make a Checklist
Spring cleaning should be approached more like a marathon than a sprint – try breaking your cleaning list into distinct categories: daily, weekly, monthly and annual cleaning tasks.
Click here to download a Spring Cleaning Checklist we’ve created for you!
Daily cleaning tasks:
- Making the bed
- Putting away clothes
- Emptying/filling the dishwasher
- Wiping down counters/tables
Weekly cleaning tasks:
- Going through the fridge and removing expired food
- Vacuuming or mopping
- Taking out the trash/recycling
Monthly cleaning tasks:
- Raking leaves/gardening
- Clearing out drains and gutters
- Cleaning the windows and blinds
- Cleaning the stove/oven
- Cleaning the bathrooms
Annual cleaning tasks:
- Assess tripping hazards and accessibility
- Dusting ceiling fan blades and lamp shades
- Washing your shower curtain
- Cleaning the drawers in your fridge
- Clean and flip/rotate your mattress(es)
2. Enlist Help
If there is family nearby, ask them to lend a hand with some of the items on the checklist! Perhaps suggest doing some cleaning then enjoying lunch or dinner with their loved one afterwards. Include your loved one as much as possible – it is their home and they should take the lead on spring cleaning efforts. Let them choose which tasks they can handle and then identify the ones you can do together. Cleaning is certainly a lot more fun when loved ones are around.
Try working through your checklist in small chunks of time. Spring cleaning can often feel overwhelming and intimidating, making it difficult to know where to begin. Breaking the cleaning into smaller to-do lists will make the whole spring-cleaning project more manageable and help keep your senior motivated.
3. Reduce Clutter
As we age, we accumulate a lot of belongings, some of which can become potential tripping hazards. Are there items that they own that are no longer needed? What about clothes they no longer wear? Put them in a donate pile!
To make this process easier, create three separate piles: keep, donate and trash. For the items they decide to keep, make sure to read tip #5 for ways to help organize their home. When deciding what goes into the donate and trash pile, check out our blog on easy recycling tips. Likely a majority of the items that are leaving the home can go in the donate/recycle pile. Remember, there are a lot of great organizations out there such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity.
4. Clear Tripping Hazards
De-cluttering the home will have the added benefit of freeing up space, decreasing stress and removing potential fall hazards. Possible tripping hazards include cords, area rugs or carpets, boxes or piles that accumulate, pet items (especially their toys!) and shoes. As you’re going through items with your senior, make sure the items that stay in their home have a place they can be stored safely.
5. Get Organized
One of the best ways to help your loved one keep their house clean is to help them get organized! While cleaning and organizing often go hand in hand, they’re two separate tasks. Clean first, then get organized! It’s important to establish easily accessibly locations for items they’ll need throughout the day – such as their chargers, coats, shoes, medicine, car keys and other small accessories.
Keeping these items in a common area can help keep their home better organized as well as help to minimize the frustration of misplaced items. Plus, organization bins, folders and other tools don’t have to be pricey. Visit a local dollar store to find most items – remember, the best organization strategy is one your loved one will enjoy and continue using throughout the year!
As you’re organizing the refrigerator and pantry, make sure to remove any expired food products. And don’t forget the medicine cabinet! Ensure any expired medication is properly disposed by returning it to a local drug take-back site. If that’s not an option you can also consult the FDA’s Flush List.
Most of all, keep it fun!
For a senior, a clean and organized home can help boost their mood and make them feel more comfortable; and it can also help keep them safe and healthy. Spring cleaning can be a fun and refreshing task to take on with your loved one. We hope these spring cleaning tips help make the process more enjoyable for everyone involved!