Does your kitchen look like a display ad for gadgets and counter-top appliances? Does all of the excess furniture lying around your living space look like it should be in a yard sale? If you answered “yes” or even a reluctant “no”, then it’s time to freshen up your home. Spring is the season of renewal, so get caught up in the fever and throw out the junk and re-organize your space. For seniors and their caregivers, these five spring cleaning tips are for safety first.
- Check the Medicine Cabinet - Are medications labeled and stored in their proper containers? Do you have old prescription drugs mixed in with the new? These common practices in homes pose potentially dangerous health hazards. Whereas some medications still retain their potency after expiration dates, many do not and should be disposed. Old liquid antibiotics, drugs comprised of organic ingredients and those requiring refrigeration should be safely discarded. The COA will accept your old medications on the first Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon or you can put them in the 24 hour drop box located at the Cass County Sheriff's Office. Sorry, liquids, patches, sharps or lancets cannot be accepted at either location. Also, be sure to store medications in a cool, dark, dry place; the bathroom does not fit that category. A better place is an airtight plastic container on a shelf in your closet.
- Clean Up Clutter - Trips and falls are likely to happen when you accumulate too much “stuff”. Reduce the risk by removing unnecessary and obstructive items (including furniture) from your regular walking path and place them in storage. Make maintaining a clear walkway in every room of the house or apartment a top priority. And either tape carpet edges or throw rugs to the floor or get rid of them entirely. In the kitchen, remove infrequently used appliances off the counter, organize cabinets, create front row spaces for frequently used items, and clear out the refrigerator and pantry of stale food.
- Have an Emergency Plan in Place - In case of an emergency such as a fall, an attempted burglary, or a kitchen accident, do you have important numbers on speed dial? Know who to call in an emergency and have your phone programed, accordingly. If you reside in an assisted living community, be sure you understand how the emergency response system works. Just like when you were living in a neighborhood, look out for others and know who to go to for help.
- Never Try to Move Heavy Objects or Furniture on Your Own - For seniors with reduced strength or mobility challenges, doing household chores may seem like a monumental task. Never try to move furniture or heavy objects on your own. Don’t stand on a chair or ladder to clean hard to reach spots or change light bulbs. Use cordless cleaning tools and lightweight equipment which are easier to use. Try the newer, more efficient technology tools on the market designed to make modern household cleaning a breeze.
- Monitor Your Smoke Alarm System, Fire Extinguisher and Emergency Kit - Periodically check your smoke alarm system and carbon monoxide detectors; run a test to ensure batteries for detectors are functional. Every home should have at least two handheld À re extinguishers (one in the kitchen for sure). Check the expiration date and remind yourself to monitor the device every once in a while. Emergency kits should be assessed often and restocked in the Spring and Winter. General contents may include: a flashlight and spare batteries, thermometer, Band-Aids, scissors, tape, triple antibiotic ointment, wound care dressings, allergy and digestive medications, protein bars, a current medication list, and names with phone number of family or friends to contact in an emergency.
- Get rid of expired, unused medication. Store medicines in a cool, dry, dark place.
- Maintain a clear walkway for seniors to navigate.
- Know who to call in an emergency and have your phone programed accordingly.
- Use cordless cleaning tools and lightweight equipment for household chores.
- Periodically check your smoke detector, fire extinguishers and Emergency Kits.