Senior Scene April 9, 2019

Although the temperatures are not indicative of Spring, it is the time of year to think about clearing our mind of the hibernation dust webs and ridding our home of all the winter clutter. There are many things to consider when we embark upon the spring cleaning ritual, and while organization, preparation and assistance is paramount for all of us there are some special considerations for seniors.

The thought of spring cleaning can be overwhelming and some of us may procrastinate rather than create a logical, achievable plan and just ‘dig in’. Here are some simple tips to get you going in the right direction.
 Make a list of each room in the house that requires cleaning
 In each room, create a checklist of individual items that require attention. For example, the kitchen might include cleaning the refrigerator, cabinet organizing, floor waxing, silver polishing, etc. Not only does this method ensure we do not miss anything, we feel a sense of accomplishment with each task we check off.
 Do a double check for items that may not be associated with a specific room such as changing furnace filters, cleaning out the gutters, storing the winter shovels and clearing a path to the lawnmower.
 Finally, recruit people to help you with some of the tasks. Spring cleaning can be a fun time to share with family and friends so do not be afraid to ask them to join you for a cleaning weekend.

Now that you are organized, do not let the annual ritual of spring cleaning become a hazard to your health. Our list of tasks may include several that can be dangerous if not approached properly, and seniors with health problems that affect balance, sight, sensation, heart and breathing need to be even more cautious. Here are some helpful hints to ensure your safety.

Prevent Back Injuries:
 Plan your lift and don’t rush
 Bend at the knees and not at the hips or lower back
 Keep your abdominal muscles tight as that will help support weaker back muscles
 Lift with your strong leg and thigh muscles
 Keep any objects you are lifting close to your body
 Seek help when lifting very heavy objects.

Prevent Falls: Many tasks require the use of a step-stool or ladder.
 Select the proper ladder – ensure it is the right height for the job
 Set the ladder on a firm, level surface
 Check for loose or broken rungs, missing or loose screws or hinges and ensure any ‘locking’ devices work
 Do not over-reach and move the ladder as often as necessary
 Use caution when shifting your weight as that can affect stability
 Do not replace a proper ladder or step-stool with your dining room chair, bar stool, milk crate, etc. Leave that type of adventure to the children with their resilience and strong bones.
 Do not “clutter” your usual walking path with your cleaning materials, items to discard, the vacuum cleaner, scatter rugs, etc. It is too easy to forget an obstacle in your path when you are in a hurry, and it is far too easy to fall over the item and suffer an injury.

And, as Maxine would say: “I always find something I’ve lost when I do my spring cleaning. This year it was my mind.”