Spring Cleaning Tips for Safe and Healthy Aging
Posted on 05/23/2023

Spring cleaning can be a rejuvenating experience.  Turn chores into opportunities to be active and consider sharing time with loved ones while completing the tasks.  Use these spring cleaning tips to help make both indoor and outdoor environments a safe and healthy place to enjoy the bright and sunny days ahead: 

Identify, prioritize, and make a realistic schedule to complete tasks.  Spreading out work over multiple days can be more effective in the long run. Remaining realistic about how much we can accomplish at one time helps to ensure the work is completed and makes tasks more enjoyable.  Consider making a list and enjoy the satisfaction of marking off completed items.

Involve others by asking for help and enjoy time together.  Turn cleaning into an event with family, friends, or caregivers.  Doing an indoor or outdoor activity can be a fun, bonding experience that is beneficial to both parties.  Think of the stories and conversations prompted from items in our environment that are tied to memories.  What a great time to share these stories while also completing the tasks. 

Decluttering can be a great place to start working.  Identify an easily accessible, designated place for each item in the vicinity it will be used.  Establishing a place where items are kept helps prevent rummaging around to find reading glasses or the remote control.  Reducing or rotating displayed items can better highlight our most meaningful possessions and avoid overcrowding.  Consider donating, selling, or gifting items that aren’t used, but someone else may need or appreciate.  Cutting back on excess allows space to display our most valued possessions as reminders of our cherished memories.   

Streamlining overfilled drawers, closets and cabinets improves our daily experience to easily access what we need.  Sorting items into keep, donate, sell, or discard piles helps to move the process along.  If unsure, consider a not yet decided category then revisit after other items have been sorted. 

Get rid of hazards and objects that increase fall risk.  Items that pose a risk to our health are not worth keeping around.  Evaluate walkways, lighting, cords, and rugs.  Consider adding grab bars, railing, ramps, and better lighting.  Prevention is key.  It is best to add these items before they become a daily necessity. 

Consider your environment, temperature, and time of day.  Avoid becoming overheated by planning what time of day you will complete each task.  If the area where you are working becomes excessively sunny, move on to a shady or well cooled area then return to the previous location when the elements aren’t as severe. 

Store medications in a place that is inaccessible to children or vulnerable adults. Choose a location that is convenient for the individual taking the prescribed medication, but out of harm’s way.  In households with multiple residents, be sure to keep each person’s medications in separate locations to reduce the risk of accidentally taking the wrong medication. 

Don’t forget to clean and sort the refrigerator, discarding expired items.  Make a plan for labeling current and future storage containers. Gather labeling supplies and keep them in a convenient location near the leftover containers and the area where they will be stored. Establish a routine for discarding old or expired food and regular cleaning of the refrigerator. 

Utilize spray bottles and extended handles on sponges and brushes to clean without excessive bending.  Improve ventilation by turning on fans or opening doors and windows to prevent inhalation of fumes.  Masks or protective eyewear may be useful when working with disinfectants.  A less harsh cleanser such as white vinegar diluted with water could be suitable for tasks not requiring a disinfectant.  Be sure to read labels, keep cleaners in their original packaging, and do not mix substances.  Consider a lightweight vacuum instead of a broom. Utilizing sturdy stepping stools with rails or sitting in a chair while tackling some jobs can help prevent injury or sore muscles.  

Beware of rodent droppings and use safety precautions when cleaning potentially infected material.  Rodent-borne diseases are often air-borne so avoid vacuums and brooms where rodents have been present.  Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and saturate waste with freshly mixed bleach water or disinfectant.  Please refer to these guidelines when cleaning up rodent urine, droppings, or nests: How to Clean Up After Rodents | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC 

In addition to the benefits that result from activity and an organized environment, spring cleaning can reduce stress and increase feelings of peacefulness.  There is no need to compare ourselves to others.  Simply getting started and doing our best to progress is an accomplishment.  Working at a pace that is enjoyable, playing favorite music, or listening to an audio book helps to prevent the boredom that may occur with repetitive tasks. Staying hydrated and nourished by drinking water and eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day helps keep us in our best condition to complete tasks in a safe and healthy manner.