Spring Cleaning for Caregivers

By: Tiffany Cloud-Mann, M.Ed.

As the weather gets a bit warmer, the breeze on the air feels lighter, the birds are chirping and the sun energizes, you start to also hear through TV and social media tips for spring cleaning. Maybe spring cleaning is something you always do, think about doing or pay no attention to. Maybe it means actual cleaning, deep cleaning or just organizing and cleaning out. I think a clean and organized home or space will set the tone for many other parts of our lives. I know not everyone has the innate gene in them, that lives for cleaning out a closet, but it is something we can all work towards if it means a more Zen life.

Spark Joy?

Caregivers may be dismissing what they hear about spring cleaning, as they are typically overwhelmed all the time or much of the time, therefore there is no time left for this chore. Although, maybe some of you have had some time for Netflix in your life, as much of the world does, and you have ran across the show Tidying Up, with Marie Kondo. Ms. Kondo is the star of the show and facilitator of all things regarding organization and cleaning out. She introduces the audience to a systematic way of cleaning out and organizing your belongings all while honoring the things you have collected and the stories that come with them. She focuses on different items to go through: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous stuff, and sentimental items. If you like this kind of thing, you will have to watch the show for yourself to glean all Kondo’s tips and to really appreciate her nature. She is lovely. The one phrase that everyone who has watched the show remembers, when thinking about our own things is, “Does this spark joy?”. It’s all about the joy.

In thinking about the show, and the work we do at LifeLinks, it reminds me of our own clients and their caregivers. Many of those we assist are caring for someone who hasn’t done spring cleaning in a long time, has aging needs or seems to be in a transition in their lives. Regarding our “stuff”, many of our aging clients have collected a lot of things over the years, sometimes much more than A LOT. It can be overwhelming to think about going through and cleaning out decades of stuff. We see, regarding papers, that creating important documents, locating them and keeping them in a safe location is a big job and one many of us struggle with. Finally, with sentimental items, it can be hard to let anything go,  as they serve as important reminders of good memories and special relationships, sometimes help with discerning what still makes us happy is something we need help working through.

Resources to Help Caregivers Tackle Spring Cleaning

Let me give you three areas to think about if you choose to start to tackle the idea of spring cleaning in your loved one’s home or yours. If you loved has lots of things, books, clothes, etc. and you see a move in their future or a change in their level of care, what about hiring someone to help you with tackling this overwhelming task? There are companies out there that can come in and help you downsize, clean out, have an estate sale, etc., all while honoring your loved one and their things. The National Association of Senior Move Managers are these people. Whether helping with a move or just getting rid of stuff, they are great. We have a wonderful company here in Nashville, TN called Let’s Get Moving. You may say to me, well that’s great that there are people who can help with this, but who will convince my loved one that we must let go of some of these things? That’s where Care Managers can come in and help frame the situation to be one that doesn’t sound so scary and powerless. In the area of important documents, let spring be the time where you are reminded to get these things in order. Things like a Power of Attorney and Living Will, will make caring for your loved one and yourself much easier, when the time comes. As well it gives the person the power to put in place trusted individuals and to voice their wishes while they still can. You can find an elder law attorney in your area or visit your state’s website to get help with these documents. Confirming documents like a Will and Revocable Living Trust, will also go nicely with deciding what items to keep and whom they go to. This leads to thinking about sentimental items. These items can be memory boosters for someone with dementia and memory reminders for special people in our lives or experiences we’ve had. These things are important. Whether you have a senior move manager help you and your loved decide which items to keep or you are doing this yourself, Kondo says to tackle the sentimental items once you have decluttered the rest of the home. This will give you a more organized space to think in and time to process your emotions around the sentimental items you find in the initial decluttering. If something makes you happy and brings you joy, MK says to keep it.

Care Managers Can Help

Care Managers can help you connect you with professionals that can help spring clean in all areas of the household and life or can help you in finding ways to approach these topics with your loved one. For me, I love being organized, although I don’t deny my piles of stuff to go through and put away at any given time. It happens to us all. LifeLinks finds it an honor to help at whatever season your family is in and with the needs you have. Call us today.

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