Spring cleaning has a special meaning to many. Some are exhilarated by the mere thought while for many others it means work that can’t be marked done soon enough.
Who really wants to tackle cleaning — the windows, screens, garage and all those chores — that our seniors have done their entire lives?
Let’s look at “spring cleaning” a lot differently this year, with new goals to achieve and new actions to undertake.
Yes, Springtime is here for family caregivers and senior loved ones! Spring often brings a renewal to the plants, flowers and trees! It is a living thing that surges forth!
Let’s bring some renewal to us as well and spring clean some non-traditional areas in our lives!
Tasks to Tackle This Spring
There are many tasks in our lives that we tend to procrastinate about because, let’s face it, they are just not fun!
Spring is a good time to get to work on some of these important responsibilities and discover how mentally refreshing they can be.
- Have the talk! Make today the day that you talk with your parents or other senior loved ones about how they want to spend the end of their days. There are some great tools that you can use to help you put down their thoughts for the future so all will be in the know when the time comes. You might want to check out our post Five Wishes: Seniors Letting Family Know What They Want to help you with this important, life affirming task.
- Execute the documents! Are your senior loved one’s advance directives completed? Do you know if they have a living will or a do not resuscitate guide? Where is it if they have completed these documents? Can you get a copy for safe keeping and access in an emergency? And what about your own documents! Did you make advance directives and instructions on who will care for your senior loved ones in the event that you will not be available? Time to do it!
- Uncover the money! Do you know how much money your senior loved ones have or where the bank accounts are located? Do they have a retirement plan, CD’s, stocks or other assets of which you are not aware? To help them make plans for aging in place and to be able to access in an emergency, it would be a good idea to review all their assets, how you can find them (are there passwords needed) and where to contact when the time comes. It is going to be a hard discussion because we don’t like to talk about money but an important one to have. Will they have enough money to age in place as they wish? If you can create a financial plan now that will help them in the future, it could make a big difference in their quality of life in the future. Have they created a health care power of attorney for finances? Who is it and if not, it may be time to do it. As part of the financial discussion, it would be good to discuss insurance too. Do they have long term care insurance, life insurance, home insurance and what about medical insurance or supplemental coverage? Knowledge is power and will make things easier in the future if you know the answers.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet! Let’s throw away old, expired and unused prescription and over-the-counter medications and elixirs that are stuffing the shelves. It can be dangerous if our seniors are relying on medications that are expired. We have a video you are sure to enjoy with great tips in our article Drug Safety in Seniors’ Medicine Cabinets. Don’t forget to dispose of them safely. We got some great tips on that in an expert interview in an episode of the Senior Care Corner Show.
- Do a home safety inspection! Check the area for slip and fall hazards and remove them to keep your senior loved ones safe. Fix up any other places that can pose a threat such as loose hand rails or stair treads. Replace the batteries in the smoke alarms. Be sure they are still functional. You may also want to install a carbon monoxide and radon detector too. Be sure all the lights are working especially in stairways, halls and basements where dark places can lead to accidents. Install grab bars, easy to use faucet handles and safety locks where needed. Do some yard work cutting back overgrown plants and shrubs that might pose a threat to your senior’s safety. Check the car that your senior may still be using for adequate fluid levels, safe tire tread, and any maintenance to allow them to drive safely. You can find more tips in our Home Seniorization Checklist.
- Get a health checkup! Family caregivers often neglect their own health. Call your healthcare provider and schedule a wellness checkup. Get any immunizations and preventive screening tests done that you need now to be sure you will stay healthy all year long to care for your loved one.
These things will clear your mind of worry and help you down the road as your responsibilities as a family caregiver increase.
Oh yeah, you can clean the windows and garage when these things are finished if you want! Enjoy your spring projects!