How to help your senior loved ones with spring cleaning

Posted: 3/19/2020 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Spring has sprung! And during this time of renewal, it's extremely common to undergo some "spring cleaning" around the house. Spring cleaning can be a fun and useful exercise for older adults, too. Excess clutter can lead to exacerbated anxiety, stress and depression -- issues that many seniors battle. It is also a significant fall or tripping hazard.

In fact, spring cleaning can be pretty fun - even if you're not Mary Poppins! But, the older adults in your family may not immediately see the need for spring cleaning. If your loved one isn't very enthused, here is some advice that can help:

Stay positive

Rather than presenting spring cleaning as a chore due to Mom or Dad being a "hoarder" or "messy," position it as an opportunity to embrace spring and all the wonderful parts of the season. It's much easier to enjoy the birds singing and the flowers and trees blooming when you don't have to stress about clutter or worry about excessive cleaning. Simplifying and spring cleaning help reduce the need to clean throughout the rest of the year!

Enlist the help of family or friends

Cleaning isn't much fun when you're alone, but it instantly becomes a social engagement when family or friends stop by. Rather than simply letting your older loved ones know that it's "time to clean" and leaving them to do it on their own, offer to host a "spring cleaning party" instead.

Bring snacks, play music and enlist some help and transform a chore into a party!

Break it down into smaller tasks

Some seniors may prefer to handle spring cleaning on their own, which is also, of course, completely fine. To help make it seem less daunting; however, encourage your loved ones to break down larger tasks into smaller, easier-to-complete tasks. Rather than finishing all their spring cleaning in one afternoon, consider spreading it out over the course of the week instead.

Include expiration dates

This tip may not seem as much fun as the others, but it's just as important. Including expiration dates in the spring cleaning checklist for your senior loved ones is very important. Of course, you'll want to check the pantry and fridge for any expired food or beverages. But, this is especially important in the medicine cabinet. Doctors believe that expired medications aren't likely to make anyone sick; however, they could lose potency over time, which could impact how the drugs help your loved ones. 

Organize or shred documents

Paper clutter can be just as frustrating as more obvious items, and excessive paperwork can make it difficult to find important documents. When you're making a list of spring cleaning tasks, be sure to include one that sorts through papers to identify what needs to be kept, what can be scanned and what can be discarded. For especially important papers or documents (eg. insurance policies, home ownership paperwork, car loan documentation, etc), be sure they are in a safe and secure place that you and your loved one can both remember (you may even want to take pictures of these documents with your cell phone in case you need to reference them and you are not at your loved one's residence).

If you haven't already, consider purchasing a paper shredder to properly dispose of papers that contain personal data to lower your loved one's risk of identity theft.

Provide your senior loved ones with a little extra support.

A little extra help around the house throughout the year can not only make spring cleaning a breeze, it can help lower stress and provide critical support to your older loved ones. Here at Interim HealthCare, our experienced, compassionate home health aides provide a range of services to help your loved ones stay happy, healthy and independent. Learn more about our senior home care services here, then contact your local Interim HealthCare branch to see how senior care can help your family.