Spring marks the arrival of flowers, warmer weather, and longer days. It also marks the arrival of another annual tradition: spring cleaning. Over the years, spring cleaning has evolved from removing dust and soot from the winter to deep cleaning, decluttering, and organizing—with home tidying and organization even becoming a trend.
Not only is spring cleaning a chance to renew and refresh, but it also provides a number of physical and mental health benefits. Cleaning dust and disinfecting surfaces can help prevent illnesses and build immunity; reducing clutter has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and depression, and clearing spaces can minimize injury risk. Because of these benefits, spring cleaning is essential for older adults. However, many may need assistance in executing it.
HarborChase Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care services at luxury communities across the United States. Our goal is to serve as a resource for older adults and their families by offering insights about senior health and wellness, senior living, caregiving, and more. We are sharing six spring cleaning tips that you and the older adult in your life can utilize to make the spring cleaning process easier this year and in the years to come!
1. Plan It Out
Spring cleaning tip number one is make a plan. Go through the house and make a checklist of every task that needs completing, so nothing gets forgotten. Be sure to prepare everything in advance so that you can remain focused and efficient when you start cleaning. Preparing the house ahead of time could include having a place for pets to go, moving heavy furniture, or disposing of hazardous materials like old cleaners and paints.
Get any supplies that you might need ahead of time. This can include cleaning supplies like rags and sprays and other items like trash bags, boxes for donations, permanent markers, and labels. Deep cleaning can also produce a lot of dust, so it can be a good idea to buy tissues or allergy medicine.
HARBORCHASE TIP: Try to keep the number of cleaners and sprays to a minimum in an attempt to limit toxins and chemicals in your family member’s home. Plus, having fewer cleaning products means having less clutter in your cabinets. All you need is an effective all-purpose cleaner and some microfiber cloths. You can even make your own cleaner with water, Castille soap, and essential oils.
As you’re planning, be sure to give your parent specific tasks so they can reap the benefits of spring cleaning. Sometimes older adults may not be as mobile and have certain limitations, but it’s important to keep them involved. They can sort through stacks of papers, organize books, or clean out their closets. Doing so will not only help get the job done faster, but it will ensure your parent feel independent and productive.
2. Do The Dirty Work
The primary point of spring cleaning is to bite the bullet and tackle the areas that are usually neglected. Some suggestions to consider undertaking in your parent’s home include:
- Clean out (and clean) the fridge. Check expiration dates and throw out expired food (especially any sauces that may be hiding in the door!). When done, wipe down the shelves and rinse out the drawers.
- Clean out the oven. You can either use the self-clean function or simply wipe it down yourself.
- Refresh the windows. If it’s a nice spring day, open the windows and clean not only the glass but all the creases and crevasses that have collected dirt.
- Go through the junk drawer (you know the one). Whether it’s old receipts or pens without ink, chances are your junk drawer is mostly full of trash. Use a drawer organizer to clean out and organize the space.
- Wash shower curtains. Did you know you can wash both shower curtains and shower curtain liners in the washing machine? Be sure to follow any special care instructions.
- Dust ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can be notorious for collecting dust, and you can easily clean them with no mess by using a pillowcase.
- Purify the washer/dryer. You can sanitize your washing machine by running hot water and vinegar through a cycle, and you can clean your dryer with a simple all-purpose cleaner.
3. Do Safety Assessments
Another helpful spring cleaning tip is to utilize this time as an opportunity to go through your family member’s home and do a brief safety assessment. Seniors can accumulate a lifetime of belongings that may clutter the house and walkways and create an unsafe living environment. Trips and falls are likely to happen with excessive clutter or loose objects like extension cords and throw rugs. Remove hazardous items blocking pathways and consider moving them into storage.
Always check the batteries in the smoke/carbon monoxide monitors and test them to ensure they are working correctly. Emergency kits should be evaluated and refilled frequently and placed in the correct spots. Every day emergency items include a First Aid Kit, flashlight and batteries, non-perishable foods, antibiotics, and a list of names and numbers to contact in an emergency. Every home should have two fire extinguishers, with one always in the kitchen.
4. Donate and Downsize
Spring cleaning provides an excellent opportunity to dispose of excess items should your parent ever need to downsize or move to an independent living community. As you go through each room, have a box set aside for things to be donated, sold, or thrown away. Have your parent help by telling you what items they don’t use anymore. If they have a hard time parting with some of their things, you may have to step in and be the voice of reason. (“Do you really need a blender and a food processor? They have the same function.”)
Set aside items of higher value to sell online. You can also set aside family heirlooms or antiques that your family member wants to keep in the family, just not at their house. Donate everything else to a local charity, church, or shelter.
5. Check the Medicine Cabinet
In addition to making sure the rest of the house is safe, it is imperative to ensure the medicine cabinet—or wherever medication is stored—is safe as well. Many people keep expired or half-completed medications, so purging the medicine cabinet can not only create more space but potentially make your parent safer.
Are medicines in the right place and labeled correctly? Are old and new prescriptions mixed in together? Are they expired? While some medications maintain their use after expiration, many do not and should be disposed of correctly.
Medications should be adequately handled and could be hazardous if they are not.
Be sure to do some research on how to dispose of medication properly. Instead of just throwing them in the trash, use a convenient and safe method that allows you to start clearing the room and making it safe for your family member.
6. Make It An Event
Just as with an important outing or a doctor appointment, block off time in your schedule so that you can devote yourself to spring cleaning. You and your family member may want to knock everything out in one weekend, or you may want to take it one chore at a time over several weeks, doing it step by step when you have time. Whatever you choose, work at a comfortable and convenient pace for everyone involved.
You can also recruit family and friends to help out. The more people willing to help, the faster the cleaning process will go. You can even turn it into a fun afternoon or weekend by ordering lunch, playing music, and spending time together!
Spring cleaning is a refreshing and beneficial tradition that can support long-term cleanliness, health, and wellness. We hope you found these spring cleaning tips helpful in creating a clean and relaxing space for your family member!
HarborChase Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care services throughout the United States. Our communities are dedicated to creating a life of ease, comfort, and excitement for our residents.
Updated on March 1, 2021