Spring cleaning is a time of renewal – out with the old, in with the new. For caregivers, spring cleaning is also a time for planning ahead and being prepared for the remainder of the year. Some tasks to consider include:

  • Determining what is working and what is not working in your daily routine
  • Putting backup plans in place
  • Recharging your batteries, taking a respite break
  • Cleaning your house to make it healthier for everyone
Spring Cleaning for Caregivers

Fix and Repair

Start by making a list of what is and is not working in your daily caregiving role. Consultant, speaker and caregiver Carol Bradley Bursack suggests that now is the time to address whatever is not working -- whether it’s the time you have dinner or the way you run your loved one’s bath water.  

Try to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes – what is comfortable and familiar to them? As a caregiver, you sometimes have to make adjustments for the good of your loved one that may not be as convenient for you. For example, people living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia probably are not capable of changing the way they feel about certain activities of daily life. But by going with the flow and keeping things upbeat and familiar, you can make quite a difference in their responses.

Plan Ahead, Be Prepared

The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) has created a list of important things all caregivers should consider and look for. This includes:

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

Exercise and Recharge

There’s no doubt that being a caregiver of a loved one or family member can be stressful and exhausting at times. But you can make it even worse if you forget to take care of yourself along the way. There are easy and inexpensive ways to recharge your batteries and maintain your edge.

  1. Get Your Steps In - Walking at least 10,000 steps a day (approximately five miles) is key to keeping on top of things physically and mentally. Not only is it good for your muscles and joints, but it provides a psychological release as well. Many phones now will count your steps (as long as you bring your phone on the walk) or you can purchase an inexpensive pedometer or watch to count your steps for you.
  2. Go Outdoors - Studies show that being outside, even for a few minutes, can improve your sense of well-being. Take your walk outside, have lunch at a park, or visit outdoor shops to breathe in the fresh air and soak up vitamin D from the sun. But don’t forget your sunscreen!
  3. Listen to Your Favorite Music Hearing your favorite tunes is proven to lift your mood. So it only makes sense that the person you are taking care of will enjoy their favorite tunes as well.
  4. Respite Care – Respite care can be a positive option for caregivers who simply need a break. You can enjoy your time off knowing that healthcare professionals are tending to your loved ones’ needs. To get started or to find out what is available in your area, check out some of these websites:

Detox Your Home

Take spring cleaning a step further by detoxifying your home, which makes it healthier for you and your loved one to live in.

Try these 10 ways to detox your home, adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  1. Dust more deeply than you typically do by cleaning all your ducts and vents to eliminate exposure to pollens and other airborne allergens. Considering replacing air conditioning and heating filters as well.
  2. Organize your medicine cabinet and discard expired medications or prescriptions you no longer use – this can help you avoid taking the incorrect medications – which can lead to serious health complications.  
  3. Throw out toxic products you don’t use anymore, like old cans of paint, thinners, oils, solvents, stains, and cleaning products.
  4. Deeply clean bathrooms and damp areas where mold and mildew can build up using non-toxic cleaning products.
  5. Check to be sure that rugs on bare floors have non-skid mats to prevent fall risk.
  6. Change the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. If you have any that aren’t working anymore, take them to a battery recycling or hazardous waste center.

Spring is a time of renewal, and for caregivers it’s also a time to plan ahead and be prepared. Cleaning and organizing your home, and taking care of yourself and being prepared for what your loved one may need is a great form of spring cleaning, and one you’ll be glad you did. Happy Spring!

Let us know ways you have evaluated your care this spring in the comments below.

By Craig Layne