Birds are chirping, the sun is shining (most of the time), and flowers are beginning to bloom. You know what time it is?
Time for spring-cleaning.
Often I feel overwhelmed when I think about spring-cleaning. Where do I start? What is most important? I remember dreading spring-cleaning as a child. My mom would scour the house from top to bottom and anything she perceived as unnecessary was subject to the purge. To ease any overwhelmed or anxious feelings you might have, I’ve compiled a list of some of the more important items to take care of as a caregiver.
- Ask for help: I include this one first because we often don’t ask for assistance when we need it and often spring-cleaning can be momentous. Don’t be afraid to ask others to help you. Do direct them to the task you’d like for them to complete.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: According to FEMA, batteries for these alarms should be replaced once per year and the entire alarm should be replaced once every 10 years. Otherwise, make sure they’re in good working condition. They’re often easily overlooked.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet/box: Does anyone actively use the medication? No? Throw it out! The doctor will give you a new prescription if you need it again. Is it expired? Yes? Throw it out. Expired medications can be particularly harmful. Even over-the-counter medications are subject to this rule of thumb. Instead of tossing prescriptions into the trashcan or dumpster, take old medications to your pharmacy or a Department of Social Services. They will either securely toss the medication for you or tell you how best to do so.
- Look for other household repairs/needs: Is the bathtub upstairs leaking a little? Do you have a sink that drips? Leaking water can often lead to mold so even though it is easy in times of stress to forget about these smaller issues, they can easily turn into larger problems fairly quickly.
- Look for and remove hazards: Older adults, particularly those suffering from dementia, are at a greater risk of injury due to common hazards in the house. Look for rugs, tears in the carpet, uneven floors; anything that could be a tripping hazard. Expired food? Throw it out. Make sure knives and guns are properly stored. You may also want to think about where you store your keys if your loved one suffers from dementia.
As always, don’t do too much. Take care of yourself and do a little at a time if you need to.
Who says spring-cleaning can’t last well into the summer or even the fall? I won’t tell if you don’t!