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Spring Cleaning!

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.


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Winter Tips for the Elderly

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With another big freeze gripping the northeastern United States, now seems like a good time to pass along this set of tips for elderly people who are dealing with living in the extreme cold right now.  While our area remains a comfortable temperature, many of us have at least one elderly or infirm family member or friend living up in the deep freeze.  These tips, originally written by Andrea Lee on Care.com, are for them!

Avoid Slipping on Ice
Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. “Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months,” says Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.

While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications, which Dr. Wang says are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65.

Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Dress for Warmth
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.

So don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.

Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees — if it does get medical assistance immediately.

Fight Wintertime Depression
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during cold months. This can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation.

To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.

Check the Car
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for anyone. But it is especially dangerous for older people, who may not drive as often anymore or whose reflexes may not be as quick as they once were. Get your car serviced before wintertime hits — or ask a family member to bring it to a garage for you. Checking things like the oil, tires, battery and wipers can make a big difference on winter roads. Also make sure your AAA membership is up-to-date in case of emergencies.

Prepare for Power Outages
Winter storms can lead to power outages. Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out. Stockpile warm blankets. Longer power outages can spoil the food in your refrigerator and freezer so keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Move around a lot to raise your body temperature.

Eat a Varied Diet
Because people spend more time indoors and may eat a smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits — especially Vitamin D deficiency — can be a problem. Nicole Morrissey, a registered dietitian in southwest Michigan, recommends consuming foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your safety by checking the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector and buying an updated one if you need to.

Read the entire original article HERE.