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Spring cleaning your parents’ house: Where to start

Anyone who loves a senior understands the importance of being informed on senior issues, and so do we. Our News You Can Use posts are meant to help seniors and their families as they learn and transition together through the physical and emotional changes brought on by aging.

There’s a bug going around: The spring cleaning bug. As the weather gets warmer it’s tempting to throw open the windows, grab a mop and hop to it. If you have senior parents who still live at home, they might look to you for spring cleaning help. Here are some tips on how to get started spring cleaning your parents’ house:

1) Beeline for the medicine cabinet
It’s easy to forget to throw out old prescriptions or over the counter medication, so chances are, you’ll find quite a few outdated bottles. Need to get rid of a lot of outdated meds safely? Visit your local pharmacy or participate in National Take Back Day, a national initiative to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs. National Take Back Day is Saturday, April 30 this year. Visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s site to find locations and times near you.

2) Aim high
Chances are, your parents aren’t climbing up on ladders, especially if they have limited mobility, so anything above arm’s reach could use a refresh. Change the batteries in smoke detectors, dust off ceiling fan blades, and wipe down any lights. Remember: there’s a good chance that these high rollers only get cleaned or replaced once a year, so the more thorough the better!

3) Get low
Yep. You guessed it. The inverse is true. Chances are, your mom hasn’t cleaned underneath beds, behind the toilet, or other hard to reach spaces that require a lot of bending and squatting. Take a walk through your parents’ house and make note of any spaces that require hands and knees time to get a good cleaning. Then, starting at one end of the house, work your way through each room and let those dust bunnies have it! (Sorry, dust bunnies. It’s nothing personal.)

4) Spare me!
Do your parents have a spare room or guest space? Chances are, if they haven’t had visitors in a while, the room could use a good cleaning. Wash any bed linens, vacuum, dust, and, if the guest room has an accompanying bath, be sure to scrub down the counters, toilet, and shower.

5) Can the clutter
Clutter, like old bills, newspapers and magazines tends to accumulate throughout the year. Ask your mom or dad where they keep their old mail, sit with them and decide what they should hang on to and what is safe to throw in the recycling bin.

If they’re not ready to part with much, that’s ok. Going through old mail and papers with your parents isn’t just a way to keep their house tidy, it also lets you see the kind of mail they’re getting and protect them from popular scams targeted at seniors. If you find any mail that you think might be linked to a scam, report it to AARP’s Elderwatch.

For more information on caring for senior parents, visit