Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Aging Loved One

Spring is the perfect time to take a proactive approach in helping your loved ones stay healthy and engaged with life. Clutter can have a negative impact on an adult’s mental and physical well-being.

On the physical side, clutter puts older adults at risk for illness or injury. Piles of newspapers and magazines, for example, can be both a fall hazard and a fire hazard. It can also lead to an infestation of bugs and rodents, and be a trigger for allergies and respiratory problems.

The emotional side of clutter can be complicated. Depending on how much clutter your loved one has in their home, they might need to seek help from a mental health professional to determine the reasons behind their behavior.

Clutter is known to create anxiety, agitation and depression. Getting rid of it can literally make a homeowner feel lighter and happier.

So how do you actually begin this process?

Tips to Get Your Senior Organized

  • Begin in the rooms your loved one uses least. This makes it easier to get started.

  • Round up boxes and extra trash bags. You will likely need a lot of them!

  • We encourage families to sort through things with four categories in mind: belongings your loved one wants and needs to keep, items other family members might enjoy having in their homes, items that can be donated to a local charity and items that need to be discarded.

  • Be patient with your loved one. Try to avoid rushing them when it comes time to make decisions on what can stay and what they need to get rid of.

  • If you can’t agree on what to do with things, create a special box for those items. Store them in the garage or basement. If your loved one hasn’t used them by the time you are ready to help them move to an assisted living community, they might be more inclined to get rid of them.

  • Once you have the clutter cleared away, you can begin the cleaning process. Keep in mind that cleaning products with strong chemicals can be tough for older adults, especially if they have respiratory conditions. Most grocery stores and discount stores sell green cleaning products that are chemical free.

  • Another resource you might find to be helpful is the FlyLady. She has a variety of resources for downsizing and de-cluttering you might find helpful.

  • One final tip is take time to enjoy each other’s company and to reminisce about the memories some of their belongings bring back.