Anytime is a good time to declutter the room. Whether you’re a caregiver or a resident in an independent living near you, someone may have noticed that clutter has started to accumulate over time. In fact, if you’re in independent living as opposed to assisted living, then bigger messes can result since the resident is responsible for keeping things tidy. Our goal at Heritage Woods is to help seniors in independent living keep their residence neat and clean. Here are the six steps that you should take.

1. Prioritize 

Once you notice that the room is getting messy, start by making a list of things to tackle. For instance, if the place needs a serious deep-cleaning, then add polishing and disinfecting tasks to your to-do list. Other tasks might include oven cleaning, steaming furniture, upholstery scrubbing, and more. 

If you or your loved ones aren’t up to these tasks, then just make a list of areas that need cleaning and rank them from most often used to least often used. Start with the kitchen, then the living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. 

 

2. Evaluate And Declutter

Many homes are in need of decluttering, and independent living communities are no exception. In terms of physical dangers, clutter can present tripping hazards. Clutter can cause mental stress, which can put a strain on any senior whether they have dementia or not. 

Clutter can also make your cleaning job more difficult. For example, paper on the desk can make dusting impossible, and the collections of figurines on the end table by the couch can make it frustrating.. 

By no means does the resident have to get rid of everything, but if they can part with the things that no longer hold any sentimental or practical value, then overall cleaning and maintenance will be easier. 

Now your question might be how to dispose of unwanted clutter?

Start by sorting clutter into three categories: keep, donate, or chuck (get rid of). 

If the senior wants to keep an item, it may well be that they’d like it placed in another room. This can be a valid alternative instead of just throwing it away. 

If something is broken or unusable, then it should definitely be thrown away. However, if it’s working condition but unused, then consider keeping it or donating it.

 

3. Put Aside Enough Time

Cleaning does take time, particularly if the resident has mobility issues or low energy levels that prevented them from doing regular cleaning in the first place. After all, there’s the possibility that a heavy couch that hasn’t been moved in years needs cleaning, or that there’s dirt in hard to reach places. 

You’ll want to pay extra close attention to areas where dust and mold are known to build up. Dust, mold, and pet hair can all exacerbate allergies and asthma, create itchiness in the eyes and throat, and possibly even cause skin irritation. Mold can be difficult to remove from the bathroom or kitchen sink, and when you add in the time it takes to declutter, you’re looking at several hours. In this case, it’s better to put aside at least a full day to get the cleaning done. 

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4. Know Where To Clean

  • In addition to the troublesome surfaces above, you’ll want to clean the tops of shelves and tall furniture (bookcases, mirrors, and the TV). 
  • Empty out and clean all the drawers, storage units, and cupboards. After cleaning them, place everything neatly back inside. 
  • Don’t forget about often neglected areas such as plants, ornaments, curtain rails, lampshades, light switches, and remote controls. 
  • When cleaning a bookshelf, don’t forget about cleaning the actual books, which have probably accumulated dust too. 
  • The sofa likely needs a deep cleaning. If the fabrics are machine washable, then just follow the washing instructions. If not, then a professional cleaning will be required. 

 

5. Assign Tasks Appropriately

If your loved one has mobility issues, then they won’t be able to carry heavy bags of trash outside. However, there might be other ways that they can help with the cleaning. 

You might wonder why a person with mobility issues should do any cleaning at all? Not only will the cleaning get done sooner, but the resident themself is helping with the process, so they’ll feel more useful and in control of their own space.

For example, while the caregiver is doing the heavy lifting, the senior can declutter their items, deciding what to keep and what to throw out. While sitting on the chair or couch, they can also dust off various surfaces and mementos that need cleaning. They can also sort their clothes and dispose of the clutter in a garbage bag. 

 

6. Make It A Social Event 

If you’re a caregiver, then you already bear the brunt of most responsibilities. Therefore when it comes time for cleaning you should not shy away from asking friends and family for assistance. The work will go faster and it can provide an excellent opportunity for the senior to socialize with other people. 

Assignments can be split up among the group. For example, one person can tackle the bathroom, one can tackle the kitchen, the other in the bedroom, etc.  Or the cleaning can be split up based on the tasks at hand, so someone declutters, someone cleans the less crowded areas, etc. 

If your focus is mostly on decluttering and you expect that process to take several days, then you can hire a cleaning service to handle the areas that need deep cleaning. If you’re a caregiver, then you’re likely capable of cleaning the bathroom area. It’s still a smart idea to hire someone for two to three hours to professionally clean it while you help your loved one with the dusting, sweeping, and sorting.