If you are a caregiver, you know cleaning your aging parent’s home is quite the task. You find old books and newspapers, musty linens and clothes – all while navigating through stacks of clutter. That doesn’t even include the stockpile of aging food in the refrigerator. Living in a chaotic environment provides major risks for aging adults. So, when you’re ready to tackle cleaning your parents’ home, here’s a checklist of things you won’t want to forget:
- Throw away expired food in refrigerator/freezer
- Dispose of outdated medications, expired cleaners, and health and beauty products
- Clear objects off of stairways and walkways
- Make sure handrails are securely anchored to walls, that all carpets are secured to the ground, and rugs lay flat on the floor
- Wash or replace soiled bedding, mattress pads and pillow covers
- Clean mold/mildew in bathroom
- Look for water damage and mold throughout the house
- Wash or replace musty curtains, blinds and draperies
- Dusty/moldy walls, ceilings and corners of rooms can cause respiratory problems along with dusty ventilation and ceiling fans (furnaces should be cleaned and serviced yearly)
Involve your aging loved one in the process, but remember it’s just as overwhelming for them as it is for you. The key is not to put it off, just about everyone who has been through this ordeal wishes they would’ve started sooner.
The battle of donating/selling/tossing items versus keeping them will be tough. For your parents, it is more about the memories than the physical items. A good tip for this situation is to take a picture of the item. After the memory is captured, it may be easier to donate the item. You could also create a fun photo album with some old and new photos to recreate the memory.
For the pile of knickknacks that your parent swears will be worth millions of dollars in 20 years – try some elegant boxing. Get sturdy boxes, carefully label the contents and relocate the prized items to a basement or storage unit. Nine times out of ten, they will never ask about or see the items again, but they’ll feel reassured they are in a safe place. And as the saying goes, when momma’s happy, everyone is happy.