This article was written by Julie Ely, the Caregiver Homes Area Marketing Manager for Berkshire County in Massachusetts.

Every year, we hear the expression, "It's time for spring cleaning!" This tradition is not only a chance to tidy up our homes, but also an opportunity for caregivers to create a safer environment for an elder or person with disabilities.

Homes used to be heated by coal furnaces and fire places, which generated a lot of soot. When spring came, the cleaning started, and it was a big production! Today, your spring cleaning doesn't need to be so involved, but we can all find new, simple ways to improve our space. Let's take a minute to walk through our homes and look for hazards that can be taken care of this spring. Here is a list of potentially high risk areas and some tips to improve them.

High Risk Areas and Tips:

  • Stairs: Worn carpeting, items left to be taken up or down, loose railings, poor lighting. Tip: Remove or replace old stair carpeting. Worn carpeting can be uneven and may lead to tripping.
  • Entrances/Exits: Small mats by door, old or no railings, uneven stairs, steps needing repair, poor lighting. Tip: Repair or replace shaky railings. The repair might be as easy as tightening a screw into the wall! Also, make sure floor mats are secured to avoid slipping.
  • Bathroom: Portable heaters, no railings or grab bars beside the toilet or in the shower. Tip: If possible, have your loved one show you where to put the grab bar or railing, so you can ensure proper placement.
  • Bedroom: Bed is too high or too low, clothes piled on chairs, small scatter rugs, poor lighting. Tip: If you can only make one update this spring, improve your home's lighting. Eyesight decreases with age, and inadequate lighting can be responsible for falls.

If he or she is able, have your loved one help with the small home improvements. It provides a different activity to do together, and it may prompt a conversation about other areas of concern. Spring is a new beginning in so many ways! Use this spring to create a new, safer environment for both you and your loved one.