It is officially Spring! With the start of new growth in the plants around us, it is a good idea for us to step back and look at how we can clear out the clutter around us that tends to gather. Maybe you are capable of doing this yourself, or calling in family and friends to assist. For seniors, it can be a bit more difficult, as too much clutter can pose a safety or even health risk, and they my not be on board for any cleaning or sorting, as this can be a difficult task to begin with.
Here are several ways to approach your client or loved one to jump start their cleaning-starting with safety first from UMH's blog:
- Clear out the medicine cabinet: look at the labels and expiration dates, what were the specific medications used for, and determine if they are still needed. Dispose of any medications safely. Some police stations offer proper disposal. When storing medications, make sure to keep them in a cool, dry place.
- Clear the clutter: too much "stuff" can pose fall risks for elderly, and anyone if they are not careful. Remove anything that is unnecessary and not being used. This could include rugs, tables, chairs, or decorative vases and other home décor. Go through each room of the house or apartment and determine what items need to be removed.
- Never try to move heavy furniture or objects on your own: ask for help! Avoid injury and strain, call a family or friend, ask at church, or even a neighbor for assistance.
- Have an emergency plan in place: have important phone numbers within reach at all times, and if you have a cell phone, that those numbers are programed into your phone. Address all issues that can become an emergency situation such as a fall, break-in, weather related, or fire related. If you live in an apartment setting, review the emergency preparedness plans, know where the emergency exits are, and if you need assistance getting out, ask a neighbor to be available or to check on you.
- Stay on top of your emergency first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: Make sure these are all up-t0-date and in good working order. Check ointments in your first aid kit that they are not expired. Replace batteries for good measure.
A few more tips:
- Make a check list of tasks that need to be completed. Sitting down with a family member or friend to discuss what needs to be done is a great idea.
- Go through cabinets, the freezer, and refrigerator and throw away expired food and condiments.
- Replace lightbulbs in hallways, outside the front and back doors, and stairways.
- Check that frequently used outlets are in good working order.
- Go through paperwork and shred anything that has names, address, account numbers or social security numbers. Throw away old magazines and newspapers that are not useful.
- Rake up leaves and dispose of branches to avoid falls in the yard.
- If you are assisting a senior, keep them involved. This gives them a purpose, especially since getting rid of items can be difficult for them.
Items that are gently used can be donated to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or shelters. Used books, games, or puzzles could be donated to nursing homes as well.