Elan Water Softner

I have an ELAN water softner. This morning the cold water was not filling up the washing machine. The water flow was slow. Tiny gold/yellow particles were filling the toilets. I put the softner on BYPASS, cleaned all the filters to the faucets (all had the tiny yellow/gold particles) and the water flow is back to normal. Is this a indication the softner went bad or do I need to try and clean it?
The softner is 9 years old and Im not sure if its ever been cleaned. Is it a major effort to clean the softner? Thanks in advance for any assistance/advice.
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