Housekeeping for Seniors: A Complete Guide
January 27, 2021Retirement Health
For many seniors, staying on top of daily housekeeping can be challenging. For that reason, having a housekeeping plan for your aging loved ones is paramount.
One of the most difficult challenges faced by many senior citizens is keeping their homes clean, tidy, and presentable. As a senior, some tasks become increasingly impossible as you grow older. Housekeeping tasks that were once a breeze such as dusting, mopping floors, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming can become physically strenuous and even dangerous as they can lead to falls and accidents.
In addition to many other factors, many seniors tend to move to assisted living facilities just because the simple housekeeping tasks have become extremely difficult or harmful to their health and wellbeing. Besides many regular housekeeping chores become too demanding due to their physical frailties, aches, or illnesses. As such, many seniors want to spend less time on housekeeping chores. Instead, they want to spend more time on their interests and hobbies.
Housekeeping for seniors should follow a specific plan, direction, and schedule. There should be a list of duties to be completed on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Daily tasks may include changing linens on the seniors’ beds, cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms, replenishing washroom supplies, and emptying trash cans.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a clean look at everything that entails housekeeping for seniors.
Table of contents
Importance of Housekeeping for Seniors
Maintaining a senior’s home is of great importance in very many ways. Housekeeping can help a senior by preventing harmful bacteria and diseases while ensuring their safety. Keeping the house clean can also bring incredible benefits for the seniors while also giving their loved ones the peace of mind knowing that their aging loved ones are in safe hands.
So what’s the importance of housekeeping for seniors? Well, making sure that a senior’s home is clean and tidy is of great importance in several ways. For example, making your senior’s home clean is a simple but superb way of showing them that you really care. With that in mind, let’s highlight some of the reasons why housekeeping for seniors is important.
Keeping Seniors Physically and Mentally Happy
Honestly speaking, it’s almost impossible to work and function fully in a dirty environment. Even though you may not realize it, you often find yourself grabbing the vacuum cleaner or arranging things in the house before proceeding with other tasks that you put on hold. And do you know why you actually do that? It’s because we all hate cluttered homes and a dirty environment.
The same applies to seniors – they hate living in a cluttered environment. Unfortunately, they’re not physically able to tidy up the home or do something about the untidiness. But when the home is clean, the senior will be physically and mentally happy and that’s the most important thing.
Enhancing Aging in Place
Whether you’re working or retired, and whatever your situation as a senior, you’ve probably been dreaming to stay in your home for as long as you can. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have the energy that you once had, and doing all the housekeeping tasks can be a great challenge. But housekeeping can enable an aging senior to stay in their home as long as they want by maintaining a clean and safe environment.
Housekeeping Can Prevent Allergies
There’s no doubt that we all hate allergies. As a senior, you’re probably allergic to certain bugs and they can negatively interrupt your daily activities and routines. Besides being very annoying, allergies can affect you as far as your health is concerned and this is something you don’t want.
It’s, therefore, essential to ensure that allergies are prevented to keep the older members of the family safe. This can be done by cleaning the house. Housekeeping will help remove dust, molds, and remove bacteria that might cause allergies.
Housekeeping Can Prevent Falling and Accidents
The number of seniors that die as a result of falling continue to rise with each passing year. While several reasons may cause falling, it can be prevented in many ways including proper housekeeping. In other words, a senior’s home should be free of clutter and obstacles. Such objects can trip almost anyone and are even more dangerous to a senior.
Again, accidents are unfortunate events that no one ever looks forward to but they can happen if the house is not properly maintained. With proper housekeeping, we can – to a given percentage – avoid issues such as fire or fall.
In essence, housekeeping for seniors is of great importance for their safety and well-being. You can let your aging loved ones know that you care and love them by offering appropriate housekeeping. You’ll also be providing them with a sanitized, safe, and functional home to stay.
How to Help Senior with Housekeeping Tasks
It’s a known fact that keeping a home clean requires time, effort, and energy. For many seniors, carrying out housekeeping chores can be a long shot. But because living in a clean, tidy, and hygienic environment is essential, there are ways that you can help your senior loved one with the housekeeping duties.
Assess the Situation and Make a List
It wouldn’t make much sense to start housekeeping chores before assessing the situation and knowing exactly what needs to be done. It’s important to thoroughly inspect the senior’s home and make a list of everything that should be done.
In this list, you should sort the tasks based on their importance and maybe how long it may take to complete them. By doing this, you’ll probably make everything easier and plan accordingly. It may also help you determine whether the house needs just to be vacuumed or needs a more thorough cleaning.
More importantly, assessing the situation will help you understand whether your senior loved one needs daily housekeeping or whether these chores can be managed on a weekly or even monthly basis. You’ll also understand whether they’re chores that you can carry out all by yourself or need professional housekeepers to help with all or some of the tasks.
Create a Cleaning Schedule
By knowing the situation in a senior’s home, it becomes quite easy to understand what the senior wants as far as housekeeping is concerned. This will help you create the right cleaning schedule now that you understand what’s required.
Perhaps the senior just needs a simple push in the right direction and a weekly cleaning schedule might just be enough. You shouldn’t overburden yourself or your aging loved one with too many tasks. The best thing to do is to create the right cleaning schedule that’s realistic and manageable depending on the situation.
You shouldn’t make any housekeeping schedule for seniors without involving them. Ensure that you ask them about their daily and weekly routines as well as plans.
For many seniors, one of the main things that prevent them from housekeeping is clutter. It actually doesn’t make any sense to have too much stuff in a senior’s room or home, especially if they’re not of much use to him/her.
That being said, one of the main steps of housekeeping for seniors is by helping him/her choose what’s important and should be kept while getting rid of unnecessary stuff. By doing this, it will be a lot easier to maintain the house. Cleaning the house would also be less of an issue.
More importantly, removing clutter will make the life of your aging senior much easier in the sense that he/she wouldn’t have things on his/her way within the home. As we noted earlier, falls are one of the main causes of deaths among seniors. While a huge number of these falls happen in the bathrooms, some can be caused by clutter and that’s exactly why removing clutter is important.
We also have to note that many seniors find it quite difficult to get rid of clutter, especially if they’re of sentimental value to them. This means that it can be very challenging to convince your aging loved one that some of his/her things are now unnecessary and should be removed.
This is why hiring a professional caregiver can come in handy. Caregivers always know how to encourage seniors to declutter and this will be a very big step towards proper housekeeping for seniors. By agreeing that clutter is removed even if some are of sentimental value to the senior, he/she will be making a very healthier decision in terms of their safety and living in a clean environment.
As much as removing clutter is essential, it would be an incomplete move to leave the important stuff scattered all over the place. In other words, you would be doing your aging senior no good if you removed clutter and left the remaining stuff scattered all over the place.
The best thing to do is to make sure that you reorganize everything. This will not only enhance the safety of your aging loved one but will also ensure that the home is easily usable. For example, you should consider rearranging furniture and cords that might be obstructing the walkways or are very close to the stairs.
The main aim is to ensure that your aging loved one doesn’t trip just because something was on his/her way. Again, make sure that important things are easily accessible. For example, do not place his favorite snack on the highest shelf as it would be a problem accessing it. Instead, reorganize the cabinets in such a way that he/she can have easier access to the items that he/she uses frequently.
Consider Hiring a Cleaning Assistance or Professional
As we’ve noted a couple of times in this article, many seniors are generally unable to perform housekeeping tasks because they have various mobility issues. They’ve derailed physically and are no longer able to perform certain tasks as they would do in years past. The problem becomes even more difficult if the housekeeping chores are labor-intensive.
In such situations, you can consider hiring a cleaning assistant or professional to help your senior with certain or all housekeeping chores. As a caregiver, it would make a lot of sense and show that you care by considering professional housekeeping services for seniors.
This can be of great help, especially when you are committed to other things and you are unable to carry housekeeping for your aging loved one. Better still; many professional housekeepers are well-trained and have the experience of helping seniors with most housekeeping chores. These tasks can range from the simplest ones such as dusting and mopping to removing clutter and reorganizing.
More importantly, hiring a professional housekeeper is, without a doubt, a good way of ensuring that your aging loved one receives the highest level of help with the daily housekeeping tasks. Additionally, a professional housekeeper will help your aging loved one in managing the tasks of daily living.
The best thing about professional housekeepers is that they always want to make sure that their clients are happy and satisfied with the services offered. This means that your aging loved one will be in safe hands and will be aging in a safer and much comfortable environment. Needless to say, this will help your aging loved one enjoy his/her golden years and stay in better health.
The Importance of Hiring a Professional Cleaning Assistance
You’ve probably been wondering why many nursing homes hire professional cleaning assistance to help with housekeeping chores for their aging residents. Well, a professional housekeeping assistant can help with tasks that can grow and become increasingly challenging to manage, especially as the senior grows older and becomes frailer.
Generally, normal cleaning jobs that were once a breeze for the now aging senior such as mopping, dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing the toilet can turn out to be physically exhausting to him or potentially dangerous. This is because such tasks can lead to accidents and falls.
So as you age, you probably don’t want to risk spending your golden years in pain just because you tripped while trying to clean your space. Again, you most certainly want to spend less time worrying about housekeeping chores and instead spend more time on things that make you happy such as your hobbies and interests.
Whether you choose to age in place (in your home) or want to move into a retirement or nursing home, the importance of hiring a professional cleaning assistant cannot be downplayed. This is because professional cleaning assistants are well-trained and have the experience of providing well-rounded services to ensure that, as a senior, you are always in a clean and safe environment.
Again, professional cleaning assistants offer a wide range of services that are tailored to your specific needs and are meant to improve your overall health and the quality of life that you lead in your golden years. In most cases, a professional cleaning assistant will follow a holistic approach while also ensuring that the housekeeping chores are delivered based on a schedule that’s ideal for you.
In essence, hiring a professional cleaning assistant to help you with various tasks will ensure that you don’t have to worry much about living in a clean and safe environment. Instead, it will give you more time to spend with your loved ones while engaging in your hobbies and interests.
How to Design the Right Housekeeping Services for You
As we’ve noted above, hiring a professional cleaning assistant to help your aging loved one with housekeeping chores is an incredible way of helping him/her stay independent while aging in place. But to offer quality housekeeping, the cleaning assistant must pay attention to detail and be attentive.
A housekeeping assistant should be meticulous and go above and beyond normal to ensure that the job is done accordingly. As such, it’s important to come up with a perfect housekeeping design that suits that particular client.
In most cases, a professional housekeeping assistant will come up with a plan that offers packaged housekeeping services for senior living. These services can be customized to meet an individual’s requirements, lifestyle, and certain expectations while addressing the available challenges.
That being said, let’s go through some housekeeping services and cleaning plans and how to carry them out. In other words, housekeeping for seniors can vary in levels, so we’re going to examine these levels in detail.
One of the most common terms used in housekeeping for seniors is “light housekeeping”. But what exactly is light housekeeping? Simply put, light housekeeping refers to light housekeeping chores that are designed to make a home clean.
Some of the light housekeeping services for seniors include:
- Changing bed linens
- Drawing baths and setting out towels
- Clearing away and doing dishes after meals
- Wiping down spills and sanitizing surfaces
- Cleaning toilet, sink, and bathtub after use
- Dusting off surfaces
- Taking out trash
- Tending to house plants
- Removing clutter
- Doing laundry
- Arranging closets and drawers
- Sweeping and vacuuming floors
- Assisting with pet care
How to Simplify Housekeeping for Seniors with Light Housekeeping
Here is what you need to do.
Do the Basics
As you can see, light housekeeping for seniors generally revolves around doing the basics. This can ensure that a senior’s home is always clean. Of course, this may vary from household to household depending on those who live in the home and whether or not there are pets.
But even with that, the main idea of light housekeeping for seniors is to ensure that the dishes are always clean, the garbage is removed, and the laundry is done. Needless to say, light housekeeping chores should be designed in such a way that they are done daily or weekly.
You certainly do not want your aging senior to live in a home where dishes are not cleaned and garbage removed. This can be a great recipe for rodent and pest infestations. As such, most of the light housekeeping chores should be done daily while others such as vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, running errands, and doing groceries can be done during the weekends.
Create a 15-minute Cleanup Schedule
Believe it or not, many of us can assume that 15 minutes aren’t enough for any housekeeping chore. Truth be told, you can make a huge difference in 15 minutes! That’s why an important part of your light housekeeping for seniors should involve creating a 15-minute cleanup schedule.
You can set a 15-minute timer whereby you clean whatever area of the house that looks the worst. This will not only help in reducing the workload but will also ensure that your aging loved one lives in a clean and safe environment. In fact, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in just 15 minutes!
To be honest there are times when, as a caregiver, you’ll feel tired and not able to do what you had planned for. But taking just 15 minutes to clean a particular area within the senior’s home will make a huge difference and the house will look much better than it did before.
Light Housekeeping Checklist for Seniors
As noted above, light housekeeping for seniors generally involves many areas. Here’s what you can do.
- Adjust the curtain shades
- Make sure that the room is always at a comfortable temperature
- Remove and replace soiled or dirty bed linens
- Replace and wash used towels
- Scrub and disinfect towels
- Lightly wash, rinse, and dry tubs and showers
- Clear and wash dirty dishes
- Dry and place dishes in their rightful places
- Take out trash
- Wipe and dry sinks and water faucets
- Wipe, dry, and sanitize appliances and counter
Light Housekeeping Tips for Senior
Even though we always advocate that you hire a professional housekeeping assistant, you might be in a situation where you don’t have the resources to hire one and we fully understand. However, this doesn’t mean that your aging loved one has to live in a dirty environment. That being said, here are a few tips to make light housekeeping a lot simpler for seniors.
- Protect surfaces for easy cleanup
- Use plastic wraps such as Glad Press’ n Seal to line your refrigerator
- Use a broom to clean hard-to-reach areas
- Use a cleaner to clean high areas
- Relocate frequently used items to the countertop for easier access
- Keep the kitchen organized
- Relocate rarely used items to the top shelves
- Use clear and legible labels to identify items
- Ensure that air vents are properly working
Deep Cleaning for Seniors
While light housekeeping for seniors can be a breeze, you might be wondering about how to tackle challenging housekeeping tasks such as cleaning out the garage and washing the windows. Fortunately, these are housekeeping tasks that don’t have to be done daily or regularly.
These are chores that you can carry out once in a while, say once a month. If anything, some areas such as the garage may be cleaned once a year if it’s kept neat and organized. That being said, deep cleaning for seniors may include:
- Washing windows
- Moving furniture
- Mowing the grass
- Shoveling snow
- Raking leaves
- Scrubbing carpets and floors
Whether you’re a primary caregiver or taking care of your aging loved one, you certainly know that he/she cannot and should not attempt doing the above-mentioned tasks. In other words, these are housekeeping tasks that seniors should not attempt doing as they are risky. As such, you should only find a professional or someone else to do them.
In terms of scheduling such housekeeping chores, they can be done once in a while. However, the most important thing is to ensure that it doesn’t get out of proportion.
Here are a few tips.
- Start with the most used room
- Make sure that all carpets are secured to the ground
- Make sure that all handrails are securely anchored to the ground and walls
- Look for water damage and mold throughout the house
- Wipe moldy and dusty walls, ceilings, and corners of the house
- Do room by room clutter removal
- Involve the senior(s) in deciding what items should be removed, donated, or thrown away
- Make sure that old medicine and unwanted house supplies are safely disposed of
You have to keep in mind that failing to carry out deep cleaning tasks can cause respiratory problems, especially if a lot of dust and molds have accumulated inside the house. This is why it’s important to clean such surfaces to ensure that your aging senior is in great health and doesn’t suffer from these problems.
Again, we have to emphasize that deep cleaning can be overwhelming to seniors, so it wouldn’t be wise to involve them in any of them. You can consider hiring professionals to carry out these tasks. But if you’re short on finances and resources, you can seek the help of relatives and at least show your aging loved one that you care about their overall well-being.
Home Coordination and Transitions for Seniors
One of the most ignored parts of housekeeping for seniors is home coordination and transition. Well, transitioning a senior from one care setting to another or back to the comfort of his/her own home can be overwhelming not just for the senior but also for his/her loved ones.
Home coordination and transition for seniors encompasses a wide range of services and should be done in a timely and safe manner. And because an aging senior might not have someone to help with such tasks, many professional housekeeping companies are now offering these services.
It can include running routine errands, preparing light meals, doing laundry, shopping, and coordinating other housekeeping chores.
Let’s go through some of these services.
Running Errands Transportation and Shopping Assistance
In recent years, many housekeeping companies have been providing additional convenience services to ensure that their clients, especially those with mobility issues can access various services.
While seniors can access various services and even buy goods online, they may want someone to pick up the goods on their behalf. Well, a housekeeping assistant can come in handy and facilitate such services. The assistant’s duty can involve running errands, transportation, and offering shopping assistance to the senior.
Again, the assistant can provide companion services that may include accompanying the senior to the doctor, to the grocery store, or run other errands. The assistant can even take notes on behalf of the senior if needed. And if the senior doesn’t want to leave home or is homebound, the housekeeping assistant can help with shopping and running all the errands on his/her own.
Helping with Mobility and Personal Care Services
Many seniors have mobility issues and getting around can be challenging or even dangerous. Professional housekeepers can offer assistance with mobility or even supervision to ensure that the risks of falls and accidents are greatly reduced.
If anything, many housekeeping aides are happy to take walks with clients and also help them participate in various activities and exercises.
As far as personal care services are concerned, it’s vital to note that a senior may not be able to carry his/her own personal hygiene as his/her physical and mental health decline. Carrying out simple tasks such as brushing one’s teeth, bathing, putting on clothes, and shaving will not only become tiresome but will also fall down their priority lists.
As such, having someone to help your aging senior do these simple tasks might be the best thing to do. You can get someone who is specially trained to help seniors with such tasks. You have to keep in mind that personal hygiene is crucial for good health and providing your aging senior with someone to help with these tasks is paramount if not compassionate.
Many people do not realize that medication management can also fall among the services offered by housekeeping aides. According to a study by researchers at Oregon State University, over 40% of seniors aged 65 and above have chronic medical conditions and have to take five or more prescription drugs.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see that a drug regimen can be too complicated and confusing for the senior to manage on his/her own. While there are phone call reminders, pillboxes, and automatic dispensers to help in medication management, seniors can still make mistakes.
It’s, therefore, important to have someone within the house to help your aging loved one with medication management. He/she must confirm that the senior has taken medication as directed by a professional.
While money management can be tiring and stressful to a person of any age, it becomes even too overwhelming for seniors. Things such as budgeting and paying the bills can be a real problem and can lead to excessive spending, debts, and unpaid bills.
As such, one of the newly-acquired housekeeping services involves helping seniors manage their finances and to help them remain in good shape financially. This can involve hiring a daily money manager, geriatric manager, or a trusted financial advisor to help with money management. All you have to do is ensure that the person hired is trustworthy.
Hiring a Professional Housekeeper for Seniors
One of the most important things to do is to identify the tasks that your aging loved one is struggling with. You can then talk to him/her about hiring a professional housekeeping assistant and the services that he/she thinks should be provided. You can also consult with other members of the family or care team to know what they think about professional housekeeping for seniors.
The best thing to do is to gather as much information as possible to help you make an informed and helpful decision. You can ask for recommendations from friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family. Ask if anyone has used professional housekeeping services for seniors before. This will at least give you an idea of the beneficial services to expect and the best providers around you.
More importantly, ensure that your aging seniors receive the necessary care, stay in a clean and safe environment so that they can enjoy their golden years in better health.
About THE AUTHOR
With multiple family members currently in senior living facilities, David is in the trenches every week, learning the ins and outs of nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, and general senior living.Read more about David Bolton
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