A Guide to Spring Cleaning With Seniors at Home

By March 16, 2016Aging in Place
Senior petting her cat on a bed

As warmer weather appears so does the time for Spring Cleaning. For seniors, this type of cleaning may not be as easy as it used to be. Difficulty bending and reaching can make household cleaning tasks much more difficult. Getting rid of clutter can become difficult when seniors hesitate to let go of things. LivHOME Caregivers are trusted, experienced professionals who will help seniors with light housekeeping. They suggest the following steps in successfully helping seniors spring clean in order to create a clean, refreshing home environment.

Identify the problem.
Perhaps the kitchen table is piling up with mail, burying important bills. Closets and cabinets may be bulging with impulse items that have never been used. Dementia may prevent the senior from organizing household items. To ensure success in the end, take a moment to figure out the best place to begin and discuss it with the senior. This will enlist their support and cooperation in the spring cleaning process.

Take time.
The entire Spring Cleaning / organizing process doesn’t have to be completed in one day. If a senior is unwilling to let go of possessions, take baby steps. For example, if there are multiple pens and pencils lying around the house, ask the senior to test them and then discard the ones that don’t work. That is a non-threatening way to engage the senior and address clutter. Then move on to magazines and other items. After a week or so, ask the senior if they’ve regretted tossing any of those items. More often than not they will realize they didn’t give it a second thought!

Organizational reminders.
Begin by explaining why it is important to keep the house organized – prevention of falls, cleanliness etc. Then create a reminder sheet such as A) In the morning do the dishes B) In the afternoon throw out old newspapers C) Once a week throw out moldy food in the fridge. Lists remind seniors to conduct regular tasks and also provide structured activities.

Avoid being condescending.
A senior may translate house cleaning help as a sign that the family doubts they can take care of themselves. They may feel it is an intrusion. They may not want family members to touch all of their belongings. Be sensitive to these things, and move slowly, asking at every step along the way “Is this ok with you?”

Celebrate success.
The celebration doesn’t have to include a party and cake! However, it can be sharing tea or coffee and reflecting on how lovely the coffee table looks now. It’s important to reinforce feeling good about spring cleaning and giving seniors a sense of accomplishment and pride.

This is just one example of the complicated issues that can occur as people age. LivHOME can help families navigate these tenuous paths and find a way to constructively help seniors without creating hard feelings. To learn more about LivHOME services, log onto www.livhome.com or call us at 323-932-1300.

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