Spring has officially arrived! We feel more energized by the longer days and warmer temperatures, which means this may be a good time to channel that revitalized energy and consider a spring cleaning with your loved one in their home or apartment. Spring cleaning is more than just cleanliness – it may provide valuable insight into how your loved one is managing as they age. It also provides a chance to:
- Improve the safety of your loved one’s home;
- Increase the ease of their living condition by reorganizing and replacing worn out items; and
- Evaluate the quality of your loved one’s life and assess if additional help may be needed.
Think back over the past year and ask yourself the questions below. These are all signs of failing competencies, and can signal that your loved one's safety and well-being are in jeopardy.
- Do you notice a decline in their ability to function independently?
- Is their normally well-kept home or apartment looking neglected and unkempt?
- Is your typically clean and laundered loved one looking untidy and disheveled?
- Do you see loose medication scattered about?
- Is the mail starting to pile up on the counter and are bills left unpaid?
- Do you notice bruising on their arms or face?
- Is there a smell when you open the refrigerator?
How to Get Started:
- No matter what your loved one’s limitations are, it’s important to keep them involved and engaged in the spring cleaning process. Before you begin, sit down with your loved one and make up a list of what needs to be done.
Aside from the usual cleaning the windows and washing the screens, the dusting and the vacuuming don’t forget to:
- Clean out the medicine cabinet and dispose of expired medications or those no longer prescribed (in Lexington, you can take expired or unused meds in their original container - no liquids or hypodermic needles - to the Lexington Police Department at 150 East Main St.).
- Wipe down the refrigerator and throw away any expired food.
- Check the pantry for the quantity, quality and expiration dates of the food.
- Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Replace light bulbs if necessary and ensure rooms and hallways are well lit.
- Remove throw-rugs and clutter to eliminate tripping hazards.
- Install grab bars inside and outside of their tub or shower and next to the toilet and also on any stairs that are inside or outside of the home. (According to the National Council on Aging, "Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.")
- Enlist the help of family members and friends.
- Visit the AARP website and get a home safety checklist, which can serve as a guide when making up your spring cleaning list.
We all want our loved ones to live happily, safely and as independently as possible for as long as possible. Use spring cleaning as a chance to make sure your loved one’s daily needs are being met and safety is not becoming an issue.
For the caregiver it can be hard to see the challenges and struggles our loved one is facing. He/she may not want to acknowledge or even be aware of the challenges and difficulties they face. They may withhold information if they fear their independence might slip away. This information includes: the number of times they have fallen, dizziness, new or increasing pain (s), financial problems, auto accidents or infractions. As hard as it is to confront our loved one about these issues, not addressing these changes is letting them fail.
If you find that your loved one needs extra help in order to remain in their home please contact the UK Elder Care Office. We can help you find the resources and services your loved one needs to be safe and comfortable in their home and to provide you with a sense of reassurance that your loved one is cared for.