The start of a new year is a great time to turn the page — and helping the elderly adult in your life to refresh their home is a wonderful way to get started!
Whether you want to help make their home safer and more comfortable; encourage your senior loved one to start up a new activity; or get their space ready for home care in the months ahead, there are all sorts of simple home projects that can help seniors and caregivers make the most of the new year.
Here are ten easy and important projects for starting the year on the right foot:
1.) Get Organized Around the House
One of the best ways to start the year off right is to get organized. In many senior households, this will be a twofold process. Step one is taking time to declutter the home from top to bottom, and getting rid of all of the things that you no longer want or need. This is an important way to free up space. It also helps make the home safer, as piles of clutter can become falling hazards while offering a hiding place for dangerous allergens and pollutants to gather. Work room by room and category by category, separating out what you want to keep, what you want to recycle or throw away, and what can be donated or given away. Step two? Find solutions for safely keeping and storing all of the things you want to save. This might mean investing in cute and functional hanging baskets, or moving some larger or bulky items into a storage container.
2.) Go Through Your Fridge, Pantry, and Medicine Cabinet
It’s easy for an elderly person’s fridge and pantry to start to fill up with old or expired food. Early in the year, help them go through their stock to get rid of items that are past their use-by dates. For your comfort and safety, wear gloves and a facemask, and keep as much air circulating through the kitchen as possible. Meanwhile, the beginning of the year can also be a great time to inventory a senior’s prescriptions, as well as their over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Make a list of everything that they take in a day, and schedule time to review their medicine list with the senior’s primary care physician or pharmacist.
3.) Get Pictures and Artwork Framed
While you get rid of clutter, you may come across lots of amazing things that you’d love to help them keep and preserve. Many older adults’ homes are full of treasures like old photographs, magazine cutouts, and art prints. This year may be a great time to get started with a service that can help you digitize old files and photos; you could also get them framed and hang them up as a point of pride with help from a local business.
4.) Look Into Supports and Assistive Devices
How safe is the senior’s home environment? The beginning of the year can be a great time to sit down and review how comfortable they are at home, and begin looking into potential solutions to increase their safety and security. This might include installing supports like grab bars and gentle ramps around the home; purchasing transfer devices to help the senior get in and out of the car more comfortably; or acquiring durable medical equipment such as a walker or cane to help them get around with confidence.
5.) Get Warm and Cozy
The winter months can be a great time to pick up a craft project — especially if it leaves you with something warm and cozy to enjoy at the end! Stock up on supplies and enjoy time with your loved ones by crocheting or knitting a blanket, or warm clothing such as a scarf or winter hat.
6.) Refresh Your Paint and Wallpaper
A new year, a new perspective. Changing up little things like the color of a wall can totally reinvigorate a space. Look for inspiration by perusing some of the “Colors of the Year” unveiled by major paint brands, or page through design magazines from your local grocery store. Even if you don’t want to undertake a total transformation, look for small repairs and touch-ups you can make, like patching up small holes or painting over blemishes.
7.) Update Your Lighting
Lighting is one of the most important safety features in any home — and it’s particularly important in households with elderly residents. About one in three elderly adults has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65, and research shows that living in an underlit home can sharply increase the likelihood of suffering a fall or accident. Adding bright, clear overhead lighting, lots of task lighting, accessible light switches, and night lights can all help make sure your senior’s home is lit properly. For more ideas, check out our guide to safe household lighting for seniors, available here!
8.) Refresh Your Contact List and Address Book
The COVID pandemic has helped us all rediscover the importance of staying connected, even when we have to keep our distance. The frosty winter months can offer a great opportunity to hunker down in the kitchen or office and go through your list of contacts, updating phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses as needed. When you’re done, make sure you create an emergency list of names and numbers for your caregiving network; hang it somewhere immediately accessible, such as the fridge or right next to the phone.
9.) Look for Easy, Energy Efficient Upgrades
Help do your part to protect our environment — and save on your energy bills — by making some simple green swaps around the house. Taking little steps like sealing your windows and doors or insulating your plumbing can make an enormous difference, as can switching out old fashioned light bulbs for energy efficient models, installing a programmable thermostat, or using a low-flow showerhead.
10.) Stock Up On Supplies for a New Hobby
Is “learn a new skill” on your loved one’s list of New Year’s resolutions? Help them start a new activity or rediscover an old passion by equipping them with the supplies they need — whether that’s some new sheet music for the performer in your life, or paint and canvases for all the aspiring Picassos.
Ready to Make the Most of the New Year? We Are Here for You
Looking for ways to make 2021 your best year ever? If you live in the Chicago area or the surrounding suburbs, Companions for Seniors is here for you!
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
While helping seniors maintain a higher quality of life, we also hope to provide greater peace of mind for family caregivers who may need some relief. All of our companions are trained and bonded, and can assist your loved one in many different ways, including providing assistance with activities of daily living, meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation, and more.
From one hour to 24 hours a day, we can be there for you and your loved one. We understand that every situation is unique, so we provide a personalized care plan that’s modified to meet each client’s specific needs. As a client’s needs change, so does our plan of care. In most cases, we can assess your loved one’s needs and start a care plan within just two days.