A few warm days in March has most of us thinking about a little Spring cleaning, not just indoors but after several winter storms, the garden likely needs a good picking up as well. Seniors who may have been shut indoors much of the long winter, can benefit from family help this time of year to spruce up the home while making sure it is safe and in good repair.
Blocking out a few hours or even a couple of days over the coming weeks to help an older relative remain safe at home is time well spent. Cleaning up around the house can also uncover any warning signs that more help might be needed. Unpaid bills, spoiled food or excess clutter can clues that it’s time begin gently discussing possible solutions.
This is also a good opportunity to clear out the medicine cupboard, replace batteries in smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors, change light bulbs and generally look around the house for any tripping hazards such as throw rugs or slippery steps. It’s also a great season to check that gutters are cleaned out and sidewalks are in good repair. Consider non-slip paint or strips on steps and make sure a sturdy handrail is within reach.
Although older adults may not be able to physically participate in all the cleaning, de-cluttering or repairing, don’t forget to include them in the decision making process. Keep to-do lists and if possible, break down tasks into manageable chunks of time to avoid overwhelming an elderly friend or family member who may not be used to such a flurry of activity.
Parting with things can be increasingly difficult for seniors, especially those who grew up in the depression or during frugal times. They may feel they are dishonoring a loved-one who has passed by giving their belongings or gifts away. Try to practice patience and if possible find a good home for things that will not be used again; knowing someone else may benefit can ease the separation anxiety.
The Oldish Toolkit tab, found on the homepage, offers free Home Safety and Medication Checklists that can be printed, saved or shared with family and friends who may be helping a senior successfully age in place.