TACKLING SPRING CLEANING AT MOM’S OR DAD’S
What does Spring Cleaning mean? Well, back in the olden days, it meant cleaning every surface of the house to remove the dark, sooty grime that built up from using candles, kerosene lamps and woodstoves throughout the winter. It also meant throwing open all the doors and windows of the house to get the stale winter air out and let in the fresh fragrance of spring.
Today, efficient furnaces and electric lights spare us the sooty grime, but the refreshing tradition of spring cleaning remains. It’s an especially important routine in homes where seniors (mom, dad, Aunt Sophie, etc.) may no longer be able to keep up with regular housekeeping chores.
If mom or dad’s home/apartment could use a good corner-to-corner cleaning, here are a some steps to get it done.
- Start by Making a list. Write down everything you both would like to get done. Tasks may include washing windows and curtains, wiping out the refrigerator, scrubbing the floor, etc.
Be sure to include the following tasks to keep them safe:
- Clean out the medicine cabinet and dispose of expired medications or those no longer prescribed
- Throw away any expired food
- Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Remove clutter from walkways
- Replace light bulbs if necessary and ensure rooms and hallways are adequately lit
- Get rid of throw-rugs to eliminate tripping hazards
- Consider installing grab bars in the bathroom
- Find Time to Do These Tasks. Just like a doctor’s appointment or other important commitment, block off time in your schedule that you can devote to spring cleaning. You may want to knock everything out in one weekend, or you may want to take it one chore at a time over several weeks, fitting it in when you have time. Either way, consider it time well spent with your loved one.
- It Doesn’t Have to be Just You. Make it a family affair. The more the merrier. If you can’t convince family members to lend a hand, consider hiring help.Involve Mom or Dad. It’s important to keep them engaged and feeling useful, no matter what his or her limitations. If it’s not easy for Mom to get around, hand her the silver polish and silverware. Or give Dad a stack of papers to go through while you take care of the rest of the home.
- De-clutter, then clean. Seniors who have accumulated a lifetime of belongings often have so much stuff that it clutters the house and makes it difficult to clean, much less live safely in. Don’t just clean around the piles—tackle them first. Caution—don’t get too trash-happy—that could really stress mom if she sees some favorite item pitched without her knowing it.
Next, be sure to address any problems you uncover while cleaning. You don’t want to see the fruits of your labor reverse back into a big mess in a short time. If you discover your dad has piles of unpaid bills, expired food in the pantry or the fridge or hasn’t been cleaning up after the pets, it may be time for some extra help around the house. A little housekeeping from a caregiver for just a few hours a week can help keep the home clean while offering mom companionship and support on a regular basis.
Finally, based on what you ‘uncover’, this may be the time can open the conversation to look at some Senior Living options.