Spring “sprung” back on March 20, but it doesn’t really start feeling like the season until April comes around. Once it’s April, you can really feel the change in the air (and the air finally getting above freezing up north!). Spring brings spring rain, spring flowers, and, of course, spring cleaning! It’s a great idea to clean out the old living space once a year, and make certain you aren’t drowning in superfluous flotsam. When you’re older, it can be very easy to let decades’ worth of living take over your home, and be lacking the physical capabilities to do something about it. You may not even be able to keep up with simple housecleaning chores throughout the year because of poor health or mobility, making that annual purge all the more important.
So, where do you even start? And how do you stay safe while you clean?
Make a List
The first thing to do is make a list for yourself of what you’re going to be cleaning, so you can keep it all straight and make sure you get to everything you want to. Doubly important is a list of safety tasks to make sure you’re keeping yourself safe while you clean, like making certain hallways are clear of clutter that you could trip over, getting rid of expired food or medications, and making certain bulbs in lights and batteries in smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are up to snuff.
Get a Crew Together
Once you know what you’re going to be cleaning, don’t try to do it alone! Get your friends and family to help you. Not only will this make it take less time, it’ll make the effort far safer, and far more fun. Don’t overexert yourself, and never lift heavy objects on your own! And remember, you’re never alone: many retirement communities even have “cleaning clubs” to take care of these sorts of things as a community.
Make it a Party
Use this opportunity to be social and make stronger connections with your loved ones. Cook for everyone and play bouncy music while you work to help pass the time and make the affair a positive experience for everyone.
Start with the Piles
Are there piles of clutter in your home? Start there! Organize those large piles first, don’t just go around them. You can’t very well be sweeping the floor with piles of magazines and knickknacks in the way!
Don’t be Afraid to Trash
It can be hard to let go of some things, but you should always be ready for the future. Use this opportunity to throw away now-useless items that are just taking up space. This will reduce dangerous clutter, and also get you ready in case you have to move to a smaller home in the future. If you can’t bring yourself to throw away something, but know, in your heart, you don’t need it, give it to a loved one for safekeeping instead.
Don’t Ignore the Details
Scrub and polish every surface, and sweep every floor. Make sure there’s nothing left that could cause a fall in the future, and cover any potentially slippery surfaces with a rug.
Double Check Before you Finish
Before you wrap up the cleaning, double-check those bulbs and batteries, and make a note of anything you need, like new medications, replenished emergency supplies, fire extinguishers, and lists of emergency contacts. Don’t just clean, make sure you’re prepared.